Minority Mental Health Month

Minority Mental Health Month

Minority means the small or smaller part. The word is used to define groups of people. When it comes to Mental Health, there is nothing small or less about it. It is major. It is the other half of us. It matters just as much as our physical health. In the agency I run and co-founded 8 years ago, we recognize just how important our mental well-being affects everything we do. Sometimes affecting things we don't even know we do or why. Women of all ethnicities have mental health issues. When it comes to women of color those issues have layers that take on a different dimension. We serve single mothers and married mothers parenting solo at SingleMoms Created4Change Advocacy and Empowerment Center. Mothers can be anxious when it comes to their children and their own lives. Women of color also live with anxiety caused by the thought of their children not making it home after being stopped by police. They deal with cultural stigma around anxiety, depression and mental health disorders. They deal with attitudes about therapy and counseling. “Black people don't go to counseling” or "Black women are strong. We don't need that" are some of the things they hear and come up against.

One of the goals of SingleMoms Created4Change is to help break that stigma and give women hope. We create original parent education curricula that include how to parent with a mental illness and how to parent a child with mental illness. Yes, we want to take the sting out of the term mental illness. Our parenting workshops are interactive and designed to fit the women we serve. We also provide information on types of mental illness. We help advocate for moms when it comes to getting proper care.

Women of color are not always believed when they seek medical care. I have been with a mom at an ER after a severe panic attack and the doctor comes in and the first question he asks is "when was the last time you smoked weed?" I was appalled and livid. He read my face and disposition. His tone changed. We also help moms advocate for themselves and their children. There was another mom (also black) whose child was having frequent major breakdowns and she expressed the current meds didn't really help much. After one of our workshops that included information on various illnesses and symptoms she was encouraged to talk to the psychiatrist again but this time she had knowledge. She was empowered. Subsequently, her child received the correct diagnosis.

Knowledge, empowerment, and wisdom transform situations. As advocates we aim to bring that into the lives of the women we serve. As a black woman I know the struggles all too well. I also know the healing and recovery is just as real.

If you are struggling or know someone who is, reach out. There is help and hope.

 

Raquel Masco

Executive Director/Co-founder

SingleMomsCreated4Change Advocacy and Empowerment Center

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