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National Minority Mental Health Month

During the month of July, we commemorate National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month following the 2008 resolution by Congress. http://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month/Learn-About-Minority-Mental-Health-Month This resolution honors the legacy of Bebe Moore Campbell, an award winning African-American author, journalist, and teacher, who helped to destigmatize how minorities approach mental health issues in their communities. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6546082 Based upon the 2000 census, minority groups comprise approximately one-third of the United States population with an increase from one-quarter in 1990. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64076/

As a social security disability attorney, I have represented thousands of clients with mental illnesses and have wondered why those with serious mental illnesses did receive mental health treatment earlier in their lives. Anxiety, the most common mental illness in United States, affects about 18 percent of the population. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml Anxiety Disorders include but are not limited to a generalized anxiety, social anxiety, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics For those pursuing social security disability benefits, anxiety disorders are evaluated under Medical Listing 12.06. https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_06

At least half of my clients, who have applied for SSI or SSDI benefits based on an anxiety disorder, also have a diagnosis of depression such as a major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression Anyone with depression seeking Social Security Disability benefits is evaluated under Medical Listing 12.04.https://www.kathleenflynnlaw.com/1586109502014/medical-listings-of-impairments-for-adults-and-children

People living in the United States have come a long way in addressing mental health issues in recent years, but there is a need for greater outreach to minority communities, since they are less likely than whites to pursue mental health treatment. Although it is difficult to determine what percentage of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States suffer from depression and anxiety, Puerto Ricans have the highest rate according to one report. http://www.einstein.yu.edu/news/releases/1047/largest-study-of-hispanics-latinos-finds-depression-and-anxiety-rates-vary-widely-among-groups/ Only 6.8 percent of Hispanics, compared to twice as many whites pursue mental health treatment.http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlID=69 Fewer than 9 percent of American born Latinos may actually seek mental health treatment, according to another study.

Fear of ignominy is one reason that Hispanics and Latinos, with mental illnesses including but not limited to anxiety or depression, will avoid psychologists and psychiatrists in favor of emotional support from sources such as family, a local church, or a local healer providing medical herbs. http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/09/health/latino-mental-health-disparities Latinos’ expression of “la ropasucia se lava en casa” basically translates into one should not speak about personal business to the public. A Latino legal assistant stated that “in all my years, I do not think I ever heard anyone in my family nor community talk about mental health.” Hispanics and Latinos may also have limited access to mental health information due to the language barrier. Families, for example, may not have an English speaking member to help talk to a mental health professional or may not understand the American culture. Additional reasons why Hispanics and Latinos may not seek medical treatment include the fear of deportation of oneself or a family member, inability to afford health insurance and the possiblity of misdiagnosis. http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/Latino-Mental-Health

In my experience, African-American male clients have been the most reluctant to pursue mental health treatment for shame of how they would
be perceived by their families and friends. The limited dialogue concerning mental health treatment in the African-American community
could be linked to the underrepresentation of black mental health professionals. Fewer than two percent of all American Psychological
Association members are Black. Thus, African-Americans may not seek counseling, because discussing mental health issues with professionals, who do not understand their culture, is viewed as pointless. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/african-american-mental-health

From the perspective of an African-American legal assistant “systemic economic inequality adds to the continuing stigmatization of mental
illness. A grave amount of Blacks live in poverty and this can result in the lack of access to mental health resources in our neighborhoods.” In 2011, 54.3 percent of adult African-Americans with a major depressive episode received treatment, compared with 73.1 percent of adult white Americans http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/african-american-mental-health In Georgia, those without health insurance can receive free state-funded mental health counseling by calling the Georgia Crisis Line at (800)715-4225.

The sharing of personal stories of ethnically diverse celebrities such as Patty Duke, http://www.people.com/article/patty-duke-battle-with-manic-depression, Nina Simone, http://lynncinnamon.com/2015/07/nina-simone-and-the-meaning-of-freedom/ and Demi Lovato http://www.elle.com/culture/ celebrities/news/a31029/demi-lovato-mental-health/ whose tumultuous lives improved with mental health treatment, has broadened the discussion, which must continue.

Please call the Law office of Kathleen M Flynn, LLC at 404-479-4431 or visit our website at www.kathleenflynnlaw.com if you have a disabling mental health condition and would like assistance with filing an application or appeal for social security disability benefits.

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