CAPAC Members Observe National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Jul 1, 2021 Issues: Healthcare

Washington, D.C. — July marks National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month which brings awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental health in the US. These groups face more barriers and challenges when it comes to social determinants of health and access to healthcare, which impacts their mental health, more so than non-minority groups. Despite advances in health equity, disparities in mental health care persist. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“As we observe Minority Mental Health Month this July, it is crucial that we work together to expand culturally competent mental health care and end stigmas associated with seeking care. From lack of access or cultural stigmas, many AAPIs neglect their mental care. This neglect results in disproportionate rates of suicide and depression in our community. Only 23.3% of AAPI adults with a mental illness were able to receive treatment in 2019. More alarmingly, suicide is the leading cause of death for Asian or Pacific Islander youth ages 15-24. This is true of no other racial group in America. And mental health needs have only gotten more dire over the past year of isolation, pandemic, and recession.

“Furthermore, these issues are not limited to the AAPI community. Many communities of color face similar barriers to having good mental health. That is why I am committed to addressing the stigma, barriers, and inequities that keep the AAPIs and other communities of color from receiving quality and affordable mental health care. We must destigmatize seeking mental health care and advocate for culturally competent care at every clinic in the nation. Let this month be a call to action for our community and allies to advocate for health care policies that improve the accessibility and affordability of mental health care for communities of color.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“We must ensure that minority and underserved communities have the resources they need to support their mental well-being, and during the month of July, we raise awareness about the needs and struggles that communities of color face in obtaining mental health care. As minority communities, particularly the AAPI community, continue to battle both the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge in hate and violence, it is more important than ever to provide mental health services that are accessible and culturally competent. It is critical that we keep up this fight and renew our efforts to combat disparities in care, and I will continue to do all I can to secure needed resources.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“During Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we raise awareness around the unique challenges that minority communities face in regard to mental illness. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the CDC, people in some racial and ethnic minority groups may respond more strongly to the stress associated with a pandemic or crisis. In addition, racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to key mental health services. This month, we recommit to eliminating disparities in mental health care and breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness. There is no health without mental health.”

Congressman Kaiali‘i Kahele (HI-02), CAPAC Freshmen Representative:

“The AANHPI community has been hit twice as hard through the pandemic because of unfounded discrimination and racial violence. This Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we must address the damage that racially-motivated hate inflicts on our community and ensure that we continue to listen and work to improve the health of all racial and ethnic minority populations throughout the country.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):

“This Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Congress must continue working to dismantle the barriers that prevent our Black, brown, AAPI & indigenous neighbors from accessing the resources we all deserve. Mental healthcare should never be a luxury.”

Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05):

“Like a broken bone or infection, mental health care is critical, and everyone deserves access to the best care. For minority communities, the toll of racism and discrimination, stigma, and financial barriers make it even harder, and more critical, that support be affordable and available. This Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m fighting for mental health care legislation that puts equity at its center.”

Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):

“As we recognize National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m proud to stand alongside my Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus colleagues to increase awareness and education about the importance of mental health care. Over the last year, Asian American communities have battled the trauma and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, all while facing rising levels of prejudice and discrimination. This month and every month, I’m honored to work alongside CAPAC to break down the stigma associated with mental health and increase access to culturally competent care.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

"For far too long, mental health care has been out of reach for medically under-served communities and communities of color. As we recognize Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, it is also critical to address COVID-19's impact on the mental well-being of the AAPI community, who often face increased discrimination and violence. As a former psychiatric social worker, I am proud to join my CAPAC colleagues in recommitting to the fight for equitable, accessible mental health care, especially for those who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic."

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12):

“During Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, I am committed to educating our communities about the importance of mental healthcare and treatment, and to help break down barriers, including negative perceptions, about mental illness. Despite the great advances we have made in health equity, disparities in mental health care still persist to this day. Racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, but more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental healthcare access and quality of care contributes to poor mental health outcomes. This July, I’m focused on increasing awareness around mental health resources for all Americans who need them.”

Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09):

Good mental health is imperative to our personal prosperity and the health and success of our society. But communities of color, immigrant populations and Indigenous peoples have been historically underserved in this field of care. This year during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we recommit to expanding access and increasing affordability for the tools and resources that too many communities have been unable to obtain”

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Co-Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus:

“Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to raise vital public awareness and encourage those in need to seek help. Because of stigma and long-standing health disparities, mental health remains underfunded and misunderstood, disproportionately affecting millions in communities of color. As our nation confronts a mental health crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, it is absolutely critical that we educate all on this important issue and continue to reduce stigma. I am proud to join all of my CAPAC colleagues and the Tri-Caucus this month to elevate the topic of mental health, promote long-term solutions for America’s minority communities, and save lives.”

Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA-35):

“I join my CAPAC colleagues in marking Minority Mental Health Awareness Month this July. Minority populations face unique challenges in accessing mental health services and deserve comprehensive and culturally competent support. This month is an opportunity to bring awareness to the systemic barriers in our modern health care system and recommit to providing equitable mental health care to the minority community.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.