BIPOC parents should access mental health resources, too
July 28, 2021
July is Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. With the various unique struggles that underrepresented groups face, mental health can often go overlooked. Factors such as language barriers, differences in communication or simply not being able to find a therapist who looks like you, can create additional challenges for BIPOC to get the care they need.
Add being a parent to the list of responsibilities and BIPOC can easily find themselves putting mental health even further on their list of priorities.
Potential barriers to BIPOC accessing mental health
Studies have shown that nearly 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year and mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
17% of Black people and 23% of Native Americans live with a mental illness, and people who identify as belonging to two or more races are more likely to report any mental illness within the past year than any other racial or ethnic group.
Some of the barriers to BIPOC people accessing mental health can be attributed to a variety of factors such as cultural stigma around mental illness, systemic racism and discrimination, language barriers, a lack of health insurance, mistrust of mental health care providers, and a lack of cultural competency on the part of mental health care providers.
As mental illness continues to impact all communities, research has also shown that BIPOC groups are:
- Less likely to have access to mental health services
- Less likely to seek out treatment
- More likely to receive low or poor quality of care
- More likely to end services early
What does this mean? BIPOC parents are not as likely to access mental health services when they need them.
Tips for BIPOC parents to support their mental health
- Make time to check in with yourself. Being a healthy parent starts with taking care of yourself. Ask yourself how you’re doing as often as possible and take time to pause when you’re not feeling okay.
- Educate yourself about mental illness. Some communities view mental illness as a personal failing or weakness rather than a real, diagnosable and treatable condition. Educate yourself about the signs of mental illness so that you know when you need to get help.
- Do your research and familiarize yourself with the mental health resources available to you. It’s okay to not be okay. Being proactive and having a plan to access support when you need help is a great way to stay on top of your mental well-being.
- Find support that you’re comfortable with. When you’re already having a hard time, being challenged additionally with finding a provider who resembles you, your beliefs, culture, or other facets of your life can prevent or delay you from seeking care. Having a ready-made list of providers in the BIPOC community may help you to feel encouraged about getting the help you need when you need it. Don’t hesitate to request an initial consultation with a provider before beginning treatment to ensure that you find the best fit for your needs.
- Don’t self-isolate. Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Throughout history, communities of color have provided support to one another and it has been known to have helped many BIPOC through tough times. In addition to therapy, remain open to support groups and healing circles.
- Save the Colorado Crisis Services line on your phone. You can call 1-844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255 for support 24/7/265. A team of professionals is available to listen and help. There is no wrong reason to call and you are not alone.
Check out these mental health and wellness resources for the BIPOC community. Visit CO4Kids.org/prevention to learn more about specific factors that help parents find resources, supports or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress.
If you have a concern about the well-being of a child or family, follow your instincts and make a call to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect hotline at 844-CO-4-Kids. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, every day. Anyone witnessing a life-threatening situation should call 9-1-1.