Governor Whitmer proclaims July as People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2021
Contact: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed the focus on minority health improvements that address systemic racism, discrimination and social, economic and environmental determinants. As part of this effort, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proclaiming July 2021 as People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month.

"As we recognize People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month this July, we recommit ourselves to understand the challenges of access and availability associated with mental health in minority communities and work together to expand options, reduce stigma and tackle bias," said Governor Whitmer. "COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated so many underlying issues and deeply impacted communities of color and lower-income Michiganders. As we emerge from the pandemic, we must work together to improve the health and well-being of communities hit hardest by understanding the contributing inequities that led to health disparities."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services and more likely to use emergency departments which can result in receiving lower quality mental healthcare.

"The disparities we've seen during COVID-19 highlights the need to focus even more on the health needs of black, indigenous and people of color," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "Without an intentional and focused effort to eliminate health disparities and inequities, the burden of poor health on these populations will continue to grow. The establishment of this month encourages organizations in Michigan to assess the impact of policies and procedures on advancing health equity and improving health outcomes for minority populations."

The impact of the stigma and implicit bias surrounding mental health in minority communities is present and affects the health and well-being of minority populations in our state. Eliminating barriers for professional counseling services in minority-serving schools, colleges, mental health agencies, community agencies, hospitals and other care delivery settings is crucial in addressing the need for improvement.

For more information, visit the Office of Equity and Minority Health (OEMH).

To participate in equity-related trainings, visit MDHHS - Trainings (michigan.gov).

Learn more ways to cope at Michigan.gov/StayWell.

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