Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas-30), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.-12) and Luis Correa (D-Calif.-46) introduced a resolution to designate the month of July as BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. This bicameral resolution brings awareness to the disparities in the incidence of mental health-related challenges faced by black, indigenous and people of color and encourages Congress to act to address the systemic drivers of those disparities through culturally-informed mental health services.
“This resolution underscores the importance of destigmatizing mental illness, improving access to mental health resources for communities of color and building cultural competency and awareness amongst health providers of the historic inequities in the delivery of mental health care in our country,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’ll keep fighting to ensure that people of color across Nevada have access to the quality, comprehensive mental health care they need to thrive.”
“As a former chief psychiatric nurse, I have spent decades deeply committed to ensuring that our communities of color have the resources and services needed to address their mental health. It is vital for us to understand that our communities oftentimes feel the brunt of disparities due to insufficient access to culturally tailored mental health care. This has drastic consequences on our societal wellbeing and collective public health,” said Representative Johnson. “I am delighted to be joined by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman, J. Luis Correa and 51 of my colleagues in introducing this resolution honoring BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. By acknowledging the needs of our communities of color, we can counteract the disparities that adversely affect mental health care and ensure critical resources are available for all.”
“Communities of color experience daily, accumulated trauma, are more likely to lack financial security, and are hit by a host of other contributing factors to mental health challenges. Yet they’re also the least likely to get care that follows standard guidelines, rarely able to find providers that understand their unique perspectives, and less likely to be able to find the support they need in their own neighborhoods and schools,” said Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, who recently led the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Youth Suicide and Mental Health. “This resolution is about bringing the kind of awareness to this issue that motivates resources, that encourages open conversation, and that sparks action. I’m grateful to my colleagues for taking part in this important work.”
“This pandemic has exposed glaring inequities in our healthcare system, including many that may not be as visible or accepted in our communities,” said Representative Lou Correa. “As so many of my constituents’ lives and livelihoods are impacted by the financial and physical toll of COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to talk about mental health. Mental healthcare is healthcare and we must address the stigma surrounding it, especially in minority communities. It is more imperative than ever that we continue to raise awareness and boost access to mental healthcare for all.”
In addition to Senator Cortez Masto, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also cosponsored the resolution .
This resolution is supported by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, UnidosUs, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council on Behavioral Health, American Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists Inc., American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, Trust for America’s Health, CLASP, Families USA, Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America, Postpartum Support International, SMART Recovery, American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, American Nurses Association, and the American Psychiatric Association.