Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 115

Moving On From National Minority Health Month

Minority mental health needs to be brought up to par with general mental health before we can move forward.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

The origin of National Minority Health Month in April was in the 1915 establishment of Negro Health Week by Booker T. Washington. In 2002, Congress passed a resolution for a National Minority Health and Health Disparities Month encouraging “all health organizations and Americans to conduct appropriate programs and activities to promote healthfulness in minority and other health disparity communities.” Hence, this communication will follow that resolution.

Of course, there is no health without mental health, and in recent days, some relevant social psychiatric news came out, including:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported a record tally of antisemitic incidents in 2021;

Holocaust Memorial Day began last night, April 27th;

Harvard University just announced an $100 million dollar fund to address its past ties to slavery of those of African descent and Indigenous people.

One common mental repercussion covered in this news is the legacy of intergenerational trauma on Black, Jewish, and Native American individuals. In turn, trauma often contributes to other health problems, especially cardiovascular. Honoring the resolution and this annual month would be reflected in reducing the international transmission of trauma in our youngest generation.

Ultimately, the solutions are systems wide, so it might take a national task force to direct and coordinate such an endeavor. The federal government professes interest. The Surgeon General has called out youth suicide and related problems. In his State of the Union address, President Biden said, “Let’s take on mental health.” But they are not psychiatrists and we need one with general systems expertise at a high governmental level. Trauma-informed family conversations, school education, increased resilience, valued psychotherapy, and reduction of future societal trauma can all contribute to improved minority mental health.

At least bringing minority mental health up to a par with general mental health would be a first step. After that, let’s take the next national mental health step together.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.