By Pamela L Tippit, LPC-S
July is Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme is Culture, Community, and Connection. “BIPOC communities throughout history have carved out systems of support in order to sustain collective well-being. These systems have centered around community and connection, deeply rooted in sustained cultural traditions, language, stories, food, art, and more. Community has been an anchor, allowing connection in a world that is seeking to ostracize and isolate. It is the power of community that has brought forth movements and social change, health and wellness, knowledge, and strength.
The cultures of BIPOC communities are born from the richness of ancestral wisdom, survival practices, and support systems that have not only sustained life but allowed it to thrive and bloom in even the most hostile of environments. BIPOC communities look out for one another and ensure survival, and in cultural hubs, BIPOC communities remind their loved ones of cultural practices that may have otherwise been forgotten.
When we reach out for help, we not only begin to heal ourselves, but we heal our communities. If trauma and displacement have been illnesses, then connection is our medicine. Connection allows us to be known and to know others. We can lean on one another. We can support each other and get support in return. We challenge each other to be better. We challenge each other to keep going.” (Mental Health America | Homepage. (n.d.). Mental Health America. https://mhanational.org/)
During this month, and beyond, a major way to continue to create awareness for BIPOC mental health is to talk about it! It’s free to do but not always easy. Many BIPOC folx were raised with a narrative of strength, not allowing others to know our weaknesses. But challenges, fear, and weaknesses are a part of the human condition. There is no such thing as not experiencing weakness, sadness, anxiety, fear, or any other negative emotion. It’s through ALL experiences and emotions that we learn grow, change, and develop. Recognizing and accepting this truth for BIPOC folx is a little like opening Pandora’s box that, let’s face it, most of us were told NEVER to open. Often any thoughts, behaviors, or emotions that were not positive or strong were not shared, even if no one told you this outright, the message was and continues to be an unspoken rule in communities of color. Although our strength and resilience have brought us extremely far, the realization that we are more than our strength can get us even farther. It’s the recognition that even our weaknesses and challenges move us too, they heal, give us powerful voices and create a narrative of well-being and self-awareness that it’s time we embrace.
My challenge to all BIPOC folx (and allies!) is to share with other BIPOC friends…and family, if you are feeling frisky 😊that 1. mental health is important 2. That mental health is a part of OVERALL health and well-being and 3. If you see a therapist and/or psychologist/psychiatrist share it. In other words, become vocal about the importance of mental health and YOUR personal investment in your own!
The theme of this month is culture, community, and connection. Historically, communities of color thrived and found value and connection through sharing experiences, stories, and traditions. Why not, make investment in and awareness of mental health a new tradition that we pass on and build community and support around?!
Not sure where to start? Check out the following resources and reach out to begin investing in yourself and your community’s well-being today!:
1. To LEARN about online & TAKE mental health screenings, click HERE
2. Learn how to STAY well even when life starts “life-ing”, get 10 Tips for Resiliency HERE
3. Ready to get started with therapy and investing in your own mental health? Find therapists and other resources by clicking HERE
Happy summer and BIPOC mental health month!!