Mental illness is often difficult for people to talk about, but especially hard if you don’t speak the same language as your health provider. Community groups are coming together in Salt Lake City’s Rose Park neighborhood Tuesday to raise awareness about minority mental health.
Mary Burchett is the Outreach Specialist for the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI in Utah, an organization that provides free education, support and advocacy. She says minorities in Utah have particular challenges.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness and let people know that it’s that much harder to go through having a mental illness when you are also maybe gay, or maybe from a refugee community, or Hispanic. You have that extra burden, and so we want people to know that there is support and there is help for them no matter what,” Burchett says.
Jacqueline Gomez-Arias, founder of NAMI Latino in Utah, says there are not enough mental health professionals in the state with the language skills or cultural awareness to effectively treat minority communities. She says NAMI provides Spanish language education on mental illness, and tries to fill in the gaps. She says the community cannot afford to wait for state or county health departments to provide all the resources needed.
“If we wait until that happens, we have a large, large number of people that are going to engage in behaviors that are symptoms of mental health issues like drinking, domestic violence… that affects society as a whole,” Gomez-Arias says. She says the most extreme consequence of untreated mental illness is suicide. More information on minority mental health can be found on NAMI Utah’s website.