While the term ‘minority’ is traditionally associated with racial, ethnic, or cultural minorities within the US, Mental Health America (MHA) recognizes that identifying as a minority means identifying with a multitude of different experiences and traits. MHA understands that mental health issues need to be addressed with a unique lens when working with individuals and families with diverse values, beliefs, and sexual orientations, in addition to backgrounds that vary by race, ethnicity, religion, and language.
#NotACharacterFlaw Campaign (2017)
We are complex beings that can’t be categorized into neat little boxes – and neither should our experiences.
However, there are shared misconceptions among many minority and/or marginalized communities that we must address to change the way we think about mental illness. Especially, when we begin to recognize that mental illness is often treated as an individual weakness, or character flaw, among these populations.
In 2017, MHA’s Minority Mental Health Month campaign, #NotACharacterFlaw explored stories told by individuals who identify as part of a minority community about their experiences with mental illness and recovery. We hope that sharing these stories will encourage underrepresented communities to speak out about how mental illness affects them and remove the stigma associated with these conditions.
MHA believes it is important to encourage people who are willing to share their experiences with mental health while considering cultural implications and influence.
The Impact of #NotACharacterFlaw
Across social media, individuals shared their stories using #NotACharacterFlaw to bring attention to their experiences and to help encourage others to speak out about mental illness and remove the stigma associated with these conditions.
#NotACharacterFlaw reached 1.6 million people over four weeks - speaking volumes to the great need there is to promote mental health outreach and public awareness among minority communities.
We were also honored with powerful testimony to the strength of storytelling against mental health stigma in minority communities:
- The Greatest Gift My Parents Gave Me
By Gayathri Ramprasad, MBA, CPS, Founder and President of ASHA International
- Minority Mental Health is #NotACharacterFlaw
By Jean-Phillipe Regis, Manager, Children, Youth and Families, Human Rights Campaign Foundation
- Road to Wellness: An African American Female’s Journey
By Lauren Carson, Founder of Black Girls Smile Inc.
- The Power of Spoken Word
By Marcel “Fable The Poet” Price
- Honoring Black History While Honoring Mental Health
By Minaa B., Respect Your Struggle
MHA believes in the power of storytelling - that all people have a right to speak out about their experiences with mental health.
We encourage everyone to continue to share their stories - especially as it relates to different cultures and backgrounds – and learn more about how cultural and institutional stressors can affect mental health all year, and not just during Minority Mental Health Month.