News & Announcements

Redesigned Pride Flag Recognizes LGBT People of Color

Posted: July 12, 2017

When the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide two years ago, the White House was illuminated with rainbow lights reminiscent of the pride flag to celebrate.

For Amber Hikes and many others in the LGBT community, the lights were a powerful symbol of a government's support for a marginalized community that had historically struggled to be recognized, much less openly supported. Now Hikes, a black queer woman, is excited about a new gay-rights symbol: a pride flag with additional black and brown stripes above the rest of the rainbow. The stripes represent LGBT individuals of color, a group that can often be overlooked within the overall LGBT umbrella.

The flag was unveiled at a Pride Month kick-off event in Philadelphia as part of a new campaign, More Color More Pride, which aims to recognize nonwhite LGBT communities as part of the broader pride movement, starting with the most visible and widely-recognized symbol of the LGBT community.

The campaign was developed by Tierney, a local ad agency that worked with Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs, where Hikes is the executive director. Hikes said she shed a tear when the flag was raised last week for the first time. Others at the event had similar reactions. To the best of Hikes' knowledge, Philadelphia is the first city to publicly and symbolically recognize racial discrimination within the LGBT community.



A Hidden Population: Youth Homelessness Is On the Rise

Posted: July 11, 2017

They are the nation's invisible homeless population, undercounted for years, hiding out in cars and abandoned buildings, in motels and on couches, often trading sex for a place to sleep. And now, for a complex variety of reasons, the number of youth — teens and young adults — living on the street appears to be growing.

San Diego saw a 39 percent jump in homeless youth over the past year. In Atlanta, the number of homeless youth in 2016 was estimated to be nearly triple that of previous years. After a concerted effort to count homeless young people, Seattle's King County saw its numbers jump more than 700 percent between 2016 and 2017. And the number of homeless, unaccompanied public school students increased one-fifth between 2012 and 2015.

There's no one reason for the rise in youth homelessness, said Naomi Smoot, executive director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. Communities are just starting to get better data on homeless youth, which may be one reason for the increase. Then again, Smoot said, "it's the drug crisis, it's the economy, it's the cost of housing, jobs being scarce. As a result, growing numbers of young people are having to take care of themselves on the street at a very young age."

Many communities are stepping up their efforts to deal with the problem. The idea is to intervene early, with services targeted toward the particular needs of young people — before homelessness becomes chronic, and it's much harder to move them off the street.


Unemployment, Foreclosures, Poverty, and Suicide Rates

Posted: July 10, 2017

New research suggests that poverty itself, rather than unemployment and foreclosures, contributed to the rise in the suicide rate during the Great Recession of 2008 to 2009. These findings were based on an analysis of county-level data from 16 states in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) from 2005 to 2011. Although poverty rates were found to be strongly associated with suicide death rates among men and women above the age of 20, foreclosure and unemployment rates were not correlated with an increase in suicide independent of poverty.

The authors of this study suggested that unemployment may contribute to the suicide rate by increasing the rate of poverty, and that lack of resources and opportunities in impoverished areas may contribute to suicide risk. They also suggested that their research shows the importance of suicide prevention in communities with high rates of poverty, especially during economic downturns.

Read more on Read the abstract of the study.

#YouGoodMan: Black Men and Mental Health

Posted: July 07, 2017

In 2016, social media started a dialogue on Black men’s mental health using the hashtag #YouGoodMan following the disclosure of mental health issues by rapper Kid Cudi. In a post on his Facebook page, Cudi stated he was seeking help to treat his anxiety and depression. Research shows that African Americans often under-utilize therapy compared to White counterparts. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 18.6% of African Americans report living with a mental health condition but only 16.9% report using mental health treatment.

Based on research, we know that there are common barriers to treatment among various racial and ethnic groups. First, there is substantial evidence on mistreatment and misdiagnosis among African Americans. Studies often show that people of color are misdiagnosed with more serious psychological conditions even when they have similar symptoms as Whites. Studies also show that Black men often are socialized or grow up in homes where masculinity is emphasized and men are not encouraged to talk about their feelings or emotions. Although the mental health profession has work to do to address barriers to treatment, there must also be a change in the Black community to foster improved perceptions of mental health services. Another barrier for mental health treatment is the lack of African American therapists. For some individuals, it is important to have a therapist that looks like them. Given therapists are often White, some African Americans may be more likely to avoid treatment. If we have more providers of color, Black men may feel that their plight is better understood and therapists may better understand the dynamics faced by Black men living in the social and political system of America.

Given the importance of mental health on our functioning in society (e.g., relationships, job performance) it is paramount that we identity ways to improve treatment seeking. Some emerging work by scholars at the University of Michigan has used Facebook to understand Black men’s attitudes towards mental health. In their study, participants reported that the Facebook intervention was acceptable and it provided thought provoking content that opened Black men’s eyes to mental health issues. More importantly, the intervention appeared effective and produced lower depression ratings after completion. According to Dr. Daphne Watkins and her co-authors, the intervention appeared to be a welcoming and a nonjudgmental space for Black men. It allowed an opportunity to safely disclose information and have access to culturally sensitive mental health resources. As we move forward to addressing the mental health of Black men, we need to strongly consider incorporating the voices of Black men in research on mental health. This is vital to improving the use of treatment and the lives of Black men in America.


July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted: July 06, 2017

In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives established July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (NMMHAM). This observance aims to improve access to mental health treatment and services for multicultural communities through increased public awareness. Visit the Center for Integrated Health Solutions’ Health Disparities webpage, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health’s (OMH) website, and the National Alliance for Mental Illness website to learn more and get resources to raise awareness in your community. The National Council offers the Addressing Health Disparities Leadership program on a yearly basis.

OMH will participate in three Twitter chats this month. You can join by following @MinorityHealth:

Minority Mental Health at the Community Level
Wed, July 12, 2-3 pm ET
Co-hosts: @NIMHD

HRSA’s Behavioral Health 
Thurs, July 20, 3-4pm ET
Host: @NHSCorps

Minority Mental Health Disparities
Tues, July 25, 1-2pm ET
Host: @SaludToday 

If you wish to be involved on social media during the month you could also share minority mental health awareness information, images and graphics with the hashtag #MinorityMentalHealth throughout July.

Visit the NMMHAM Facebook page. Learn about past webinars and events on the NNED NMMHAM page.

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