Minority represents the lesser amount or part, particularly one that represents less than half of the total. You may be a member of the majority but not everyone around you has that privilege. Minorities suffer a large amount of discrimination, just for being who they are. Imagine if you were treated in a bad way only for being whole heartedly yourself, If you were misbehaved with only because of your sexual preferences or the colour you were born with and are probably proud of. You wouldn’t be okay with it. You wouldn’t feel good about yourself. It is high time we raise awareness regarding Minority Mental Health Care, since every human being, regardless of race or ethnicity, needs equal access to Mental Health Care. Mental Health Care is a necessity no one should be deprived of. A minority has done nothing wrong on their part to receive less care. Neither have they done anything to take away their rights from them. We need to change our stereotypes, and attitudes to lead towards a brighter future for all.
July is considered to be Minority Mental Healthcare Month. Minority Mental Health Month is a national initiative launched by Mental Health America to “bring to light the vast array of mental health experiences within BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities and others who face disproportionate inequities due to systemic barriers and historical adversity.”
As Adolf Hitler once said, “World History is made by minorities when this minority of number embodies the majority of will and determination.” Minorities, in my opinion, have the ability to effect change. The inequity and challenges they confront fuel a desire within them to prove themselves over and again. Knowing how people are treated and doing nothing about it is just plain heartless. We see discrimination there in front of us and choose to ignore it. For example, you may have observed a coworker being barred from workplace gatherings only because they are a member of a minority group. Did you decide to stand up for what is right? And to put a stop to social prejudice.
In India, it is observed through studies that Schedule castes (SCs) and Muslims have worse self reported mental health than Upper caste and Hindus. Sexual Minorities like Bisexual and Gay people are more prone to stress or Mental Disorders and yet are turned upon. Mental Health workers and we as citizens need to become more sensitive towards the minorities and make them feel inclusive too.
What is the status of minorities?
Minorities are treated in the most unequal and unfair way possible. With respect to mental Health care, lower class and minority castes have less access to mental health services than upper class, and are less likely to obtain needed therapy, and are more likely to receive low quality care when they do receive treatment. Why this discrimination?
Disparities in mental health treatment, defined as unequal variations in access to or quality of care based on race and ethnicity, are fairly prevalent.
Racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities frequently have poor mental health outcomes due to a variety of factors such as a lack of access to high-quality mental health care services, cultural stigma associated with mental health care, discrimination, and an overall lack of awareness about mental health.
According to studies in India, persons from lower castes had greater levels of depression than people from higher castes in the Dehradun region of Uttarakhand, a state in north India. In a study of moms who had a recent birth in the state of Jharkhand, it was shown that women from the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste had a greater risk of psychological stress when compared to other women. In Nepal, a country with a similar caste system to India, it has been discovered that Dalits are more prone to experience depressive episodes than upper caste Brahmins and Chhetris. Data from a study performed in villages in 13 districts of North India are used to show that Scheduled Castes have poorer life satisfaction than other castes.
This evidence from research studies conducted in India makes it highly visible how badly our country needs to pay equal attention to minority mental healthcare as well, as they are the ones most prone to mental illnesses.
Some other reasons why minorities do not receive adequate mental health treatment are as follows:
A scarcity of resources
Problems with transportation, difficulties obtaining child care/taking time off work,
The notion that mental health therapy "doesn't work,"
The high amount of stigma associated with mental health among minority communities.
A mental health system that is largely influenced by non-minority beliefs and cultural norms.
In therapeutic settings, there is racism, prejudice, and discrimination.
Language obstacles, as well as a scarcity of providers who speak languages other than English.
Inadequate health insurance coverage
Inside the heart of a member of a minority group
Have you ever wondered how it may feel to be a part of a minority, to be looked down upon and to have to fight for your basic rights continuously? Someone who is a part of a minority in this world of majority feels like an outsider. They experience a turmoil of emotions that we, being in the majority, can’t see. There is so much unconscious and invisible energy that they uses up towards deciphering the intent and motives of others towards them. All this only because of one factor- they belong to a minority.
A black may be made to wait in the line at a café, while a white is being served first. In India, lighter skin coloured people are complimented for their beauty while dark skin coloured people are looked down upon. Setting such beauty standards on the basis of skin colour is simply unhealthy and toxic. Sexual and gender minorities face a lot of harsh judgements in India. LGBTQ+ individuals face stigma, and stigma is related to mental health condition. Stigma causes higher stress and poorer mental health conditions. Since the past decade the LGBTQ+ community has been fighting for their rights. Non-Binary individuals are subject to increased violence, discrimination and micro-aggressions and experience intense focus on their bodies, even by strangers. This behaviour leads to their mental health getting affected, in spite of which they are not given proper care. One does have the right to live their life as they see fit. Only education can help to decrease discrimination and inequity. Schools should include LGBTQ+ curriculum where students are made comfortable with gender and sexual minorities. Mental health practitioners should learn more and make themselves aware of ways to deal with an individual from the LGBTQ+ community by taking up courses for the same. They demand to be heard, to be understood, so as to feel wanted and included.
Methods for dealing with mental health issues suffered by minorities
The first step is to recognize the burdens you bear. Recognize that being a woman, LGBTQ+, SCs, STs, Muslim, or Non-Binary (or any other minority group) can be difficult at times. Recognize that being a member of a minority requires you to be continuously on the lookout for individuals and situations that are discriminating against you. There are moments when it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell, and other times when it is crystal apparent. Recognize the existence of this constant inquiry in your thoughts.
The following critical stage is to handle and cope with these feelings and experiences. Find someone to chat to within your friends and family. Determine who will be understanding and supportive of you and your experiences, and communicate with them.
Being a part of a certain group, you generally feel comfortable with people going through the same problems like you. You can benefit most when you find your community of people, who are like minded and understand you better.
Another wonderful approach to deal with your feelings is to write. It helps you to express your feelings without keeping them bottled up inside, providing you with much-needed relief.
Another excellent coping strategy is exercise. It's a physical means of releasing your rage, grief, and frustration. To relieve stress, go for a run, a speed stroll around the block, or perform push-ups in your office.
The final and most essential step is to let go. This is a learned skill that requires practice.
Recognizing and dealing with obstacles can help you manage your day-to-day life. However, being able to let go of the sorrow, anger, and confusion helps you to be more cheerful and not hang on to the terrible events that may occur during the day.
Some people utilize prayer or meditation to help them let go.
Others can relax after exercising and experience the release in their bodies.
Practicing thankfulness and appreciation for what is good in my life also helps me let go. Try writing a journal or just penning down your feelings.
Raising awareness can aid in the implementation of change
Have you ever tried to open a door that refused to open? At first, you suspect you're doing something incorrectly. Perhaps there's a trick to it. You try pulling the key back a little—it doesn't work. You jiggle the key—nothing happens. You keep trying, but the door remains shut. After a time, you understand the issue isn't with you, but with the key. This is what it's like for minorities seeking mental health care.
You can make a difference. Whether you have directly experienced problems connected with Minority mental health or are fighting for a stronger and vast Mental health system, it is difficult to open the doors to accessible and non-judgmental mental healthcare for minorities, but we can all do our part to make the correct keys for easy access and quality care.
Awareness and educating yourself on the problems faced by minorities gives rise to hope for a better tomorrow. Minority groups have something to look forward to, because a lot is going to change now! EduPsych has opened doors for a conversation and for offering accessible and non-judgmental mental healthcare for minorities alongside everyone else. What will make you take the first step?
About the Author
Content Writing Intern at EduPsych
Urjja is a psychology enthusiast who wants to be a part of the shift in destigmatizing perceptions about mental health and mental health practitioners. She aspires to be a clinical psychologist in the future and is striving to achieve this goal. Reading, travelling, adventure sports, and drawing are among her other hobbies.