In our last blog, we shared a discussion with Pack Health employees, Tamara and Tina, about attending the Minority Mental Health Awareness Summit. Here, we conclude this conversation and share resources for our members interested in a better understanding of mental health in marginalized communities.
Tamara: What did you like the most about the conference, Tina?
Tina: I really appreciated a space to talk about mental health in minority communities. As you know, Tamara, it’s such a taboo topic. But just because there isn’t any conversation around the topic doesn’t mean that mental health issues aren’t happening. That was apparent when it came to the panel I attended on the second day (described here). I also really enjoyed taking part in the community conversation where we came together as attendees to discuss ideas on how to decriminalize mental illness. The other individuals at my table came from all walks of life. During this conversation, we became a community, seeking different solutions for this important public health issue. These solutions ranged from community responses to public policy changes. How about you Tamara? What did you like the most?
Tamara: There were so many great things, it’s hard to decide! You make some very poignant points with the topic of mental health is very “taboo” in minority communities and the significance of having a safe space to feel vulnerable and come to terms with managing mental health. One shared experience that stood out, was being comfortable with placing a name to a mental health crisis. There is a stigma attached to mental health crises where we or someone we know may not be truthful about what we are experiencing. Many times we experience things that we write off as normal, but could very well lead to a mental health crisis. Naming these issues without stigma or shame is definitely an important step in the right direction.
Another amazing experience was the Mental Health First Aid training. I challenge readers to ask themselves a few questions: “Do you know how to identify when a person may be experiencing a mental health crisis?” “Do you feel comfortable enough that you would know how to respond in a way that is not detrimental to the person?” “Do you know what resources are available to assist that person?” If your answer is “No”, I strongly suggest signing up for Mental Health First Aid. In this training, I learned how NOT to be afraid to reach out to lend a helping hand and how to embody that realm of “safe space”.
Tina: That sounds great! So how do you think the summit will help you better tackle your role as a Health Advisor at Pack Health?
Tamara: The Mental Health First Aid training was truly a gem for me as a Health Advisor. In this role, I meet people from all walks of life and improving stress and social support is a topic that I cover with my members. Oftentimes, this talk evolves into a discussion about healthy coping strategies. In the past, I would feel unsure about the right way to bring up the discussion of mental health, thinking that if I mentioned it, discussing the sensitive topic would make it worse. However, in training, we learned that people appreciate having someone to acknowledge and discuss with them healthy resources of support and self-help strategies. I feel more confident to assess a situation, listen nonjudgmentally, give reassurance, encourage appropriate professional help and self-help. What about you, Tina?
Tina: Well Tamara, since I am on the content team, you know that a good majority of our programs include lessons focused on emotional well-being and social support, as you just mentioned. I think getting a better idea of the prevalence of mental health issues in the U.S., including depression and anxiety, helps me to understand the importance of addressing mental health issues with the chronic conditions supported by Pack Health. It also helped me gather a list of resources that we can now recommend to members from marginalized communities.
Tamara: I agree wholeheartedly Tina! Here at Pack Health, we can provide a safe space to help people better understand and manage their mental health concerns while listening with an empathetic ear. It is our goal to pair our members with the appropriate resources, professional help, and encouragement to include self-help and support strategies in their lives. I am looking forward to the future as we continue to tackle this public health concern, not only from a place of research but from one with understanding and empathy.
Want to know more? Here is a list of resources on mental health and minority communities:
Saved & Depressed: A Suicide Survivor’s Journey of Mental Health, Healing and Faith
Injured Reserve: A Black Man’s Playbook to Manage Being Sidelined by Mental Illness
Kristen Amerson Youth Foundation