Addressing Stigma and Minority Mental Health Through Awareness

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and minorities are even less likely to get help.  Mental illness affects one in five adults and one in 10 children in America, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Studies also show that minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.

On July 19, during National Minority Mental Health Month, Houston Community College VAST Academy and Mental Health America of Greater Houston in association with M.D. Anderson Faith, Health and Family Collaborative, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, and Partners 4 Inclusion, offered the Greater Houston community an intimate look at minority mental health issues including suicide, the impact of stigma and how access to effective treatment can improve the mental health and well-being of individuals who are living with mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The event, hosted at Houston Community College West Loop Campus, featured the #HTXMentalHealth children’s art display by the Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston, music by The Conrad O. Johnson Regional Youth Orchestra, and short films including Empowering Arms: Inspiring Stories of Veterans Serving Veterans. 

It also included stories and “lived experiences,” shared by Dr. Jinneh Dyson, founder of the ThinkUP Academy, Nicole Kwan, a first generation American and presenter of A Chinese Immigrant’s Depression Story, Bobbye Wagner, writer and producer of The Pink Canopy: The Greatest Lesson that Mom Would Ever Teach, and T’Liza Kiel, director and Manny Satarain, peer mentor with the Veterans Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston.

This inaugural event also recognized the outstanding contributions in mental health of the following individuals and organizations:

Veterans Mental Health

  • Judge Marc Carter, 228th District Court and Harris County Veterans Felony Treatment Court
  • Judge Mike Fields, County Court at Law No. 14 and Harris County Veterans Misdemeanor Court
  • Harris County Veterans Court Peer Mentors

 Jail Diversion

  • Dr. Regenia Hicks, Director, Harris County Mental Health Diversion Program

Mental Health & Disabilities

  • Special Kids, Inc.

Faith Community & Mental Health

  • Wheeler Avenue 5C’s (Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church)
  • Missouri City Baptist Church
  • Bible Way Fellowship Baptist Church

 Youth Mental Health

  • Bella Escamilla, Condit Elementary School Student (Houston ISD) and City of Houston Youth Ambassador

Mental Health and the Media

  • Univision 45 Houston
  • KHOU 11 Houston
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