July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
The 988 Lifeline Also Launches This Month on July 16th
Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing some important facts about minority mental health in New Mexico, and giving you places to find support. This month also marks the July 16th launch of the national 988 Behavioral Health Crisis Lifeline. More than a suicide hotline, the new 988 number is a new, free and easy to remember nationwide helpline for emotional, mental or substance use crisis. 988 is part of a larger initiative to build out a behavioral health infrastructure for people in distress to have someone to call, someone to come, and somewhere to go.
The 988 Lifeline will bring real-time access to behavioral health professionals for anyone in New Mexico experiencing mental health challenges. The 988 Lifeline is going to be available via call, text, and chat in both English and Spanish on July 16, 2022. Until then, those seeking help should call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255. Spanish speakers are available. Visit 988nm.org for more information.
988 calls, texts and chat is answered by trained, compassionate behavioral health professionals who know community mental health and substance use resources. They will listen, offer support and work together with the caller to develop a plan for safety and recovery.
It’s important to recognize National Minority Mental Health Month in New Mexico because here, people of color make up a large percentage of our population. New Mexico is celebrated for our diversity: statewide, 47.8 percent of the population identify as Hispanic or Latino of any race; 10% identify as Indigenous; 3.2% identify as Black or African American; and almost 20% identify as two or more races.
According to NAMI and Mental Health America, Black, African American, and Indigenous/Native people across the U.S. report lower overall rates of mental illnesses than white people, but are more likely to report an unmet need for or inability to access care for substance abuse or mental health issues. There are also disproportionate rates of death by suicide among Native/Indigenous people in America. Native youth between the ages of 15-19 are at more than double the risk of non-Hispanic whites. Native/Indigenous people in America struggle with alcohol and other drugs at younger ages, and at higher rates, than all other ethnic groups.
There are some other indicators that many citizens of New Mexico may not be able to access proper mental health treatment:
- 6 in 10 New Mexicans are people of color and/or Indigenous
- 36 in 100 speak a language other than English at home
- 1 in 10 New Mexicans was born outside the U.S.
- 1 in 5 New Mexicans live beneath the federal poverty line
- 1 in 10 New Mexicans have no health insurance
Here in New Mexico and across the U.S., barriers to healthcare access greatly affect members of diverse ethnic and racial groups. Medical and institutionalized racism, the high expense of healthcare costs in America, lack of insurance, negative stigma surrounding mental health and substance misuse, lack of diversity or cultural competency among mental health care providers, and language barriers are many reasons and factors that prevent people of color from accessing and receiving comprehensive medical care, including behavioral health services.
988 is an important first, but not final step, in reimagining New Mexico’s behavioral health crisis system to respond to anyone in need. HSD/BHSD believes New Mexicans deserve to have mental health within reach. Building the Crisis Now Continuum of Care is about meeting people where they’re at when they need it most. This transformation will take time and requires resources from federal, state, and local levels to prepare the crisis system to better meet these needs.
On a hopeful note, recent developments for our state including increased funding for mental health programs and improvements to services have been made throughout many systems and agencies. These allocations seek to help decrease the disparity in education, access, and prevention for a variety of mental health and substance misuse concerns. The New Mexico Human Services Department, Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) provides many culturally relevant, inclusive, and informed services through its network of care providers. You can find them at https://newmexico.networkofcare.org/mh/index.aspx. They offer services that are sensitive to issues faced by the diverse populations of our state because culturally informed, evidence-based mental healthcare is essential to improving minority mental health.
If you or a loved one are having trouble in gaining access to treatment, please know that help is available. Check our resource page or talk to friends and family members for possible referrals within your community. Good health—including good mental health—is a fundamental human right. Stand with us to support positive conversations about minority mental healthcare and end the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
- 988 New Mexico
- BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month – NMCAL
- Mental health resources for underrepresented communities
- Office of Minority Health
- National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
- Find bilingual resources (English and Spanish) on the latest COVID-19 topics, vaccines, and more at: https://covid19community.nih.gov/communication-resources and https://bit.ly/36kCXbZ