How to Engage Minority Youth

National Minority Mental Health Month
When it comes to mental health, many minorities hold different views about mental illness and may view seeking help as a sign of weakness or a threat to one’s reputation and social status. Additionally, privacy concerns and fear of discrimination may also prevent some from seeking mental health services.
Mental health professionals can help individuals address a wide range of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that negatively impact their quality of life. Minorities often experience unique stressors and challenges that can lead to higher rates of mental health concerns, such as discrimination, social marginalization, and cultural identity. Accessing mental health services can help individuals better cope with these challenges, improve their emotional and physical health, and strengthen their relationships with others.

How to Engage Minority Youth

Most communities of color have a rich cultural heritage that is built on strong values and beliefs. However, when it comes to mental health, there is often a stigma and reluctance to seek help.
Hesitation towards seeking mental health care stems from various factors such as cultural norms, language barriers, and limited access to healthcare. These reasons are valid and must be addressed.
What can we do as a community to help bring the gap and support at risk populations to improve mental wellness and have overall humanity?

1. Become Culturally Aware
Challenge yourself to learn about the cultures. What is the trending fashion, styles, “slang”/language, songs, video games being played, interests? Anything that is relevant to our young community

2. Practice Empathy
Try to reach back and recall a difficult time in your life feeling like nobody cares and not being understood. How did you feel? Relate your personal feelings as you try to understand and connect to minority communities. By displaying empathy, you will have more patience and understanding towards these individuals.

3. Serve as a mentor and dedicate one on one time with a young person. Contact various agencies such as “Big Brothers Big Sisters of America”; religious places of worship, and schools that may have volunteer opportunities.

4. Children are a product of their environment. Arrange a time to connect with a parent or friend of a youth and learn what is needed for them and the child. Based on their need, offer resources that may not be well known to this special population.

5. Volunteer time at after school programs and schools in disadvantaged areas.

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Ingrid Montgomery

Ingrid Montgomery