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Mental Health and Police Shootings


Minority Mental Health Month is observed every July to help bring awareness to the unique struggles that impact minority communities in the United States.  The theme for 2023 is Better Health Through Better Understanding.   

A stark and sad reminder about the connection of mental health and the work we do is related to police shootings. All too frequently, police shootings and serious uses of force occur during interactions with individuals experiencing mental health crises. In many cases, police officers are often the first responders to incidents involving individuals with mental health issues because they are typically the ones called for emergency assistance. However, police encounters with individuals who have mental health conditions often unduly escalate as a result of a lack of understanding, training, and resources available to law enforcement officers. This has led to tragic outcomes and raised concerns about the appropriate response to such situations. 
Black people account for roughly 14 percent of the U.S. population and are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans.1 Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate. Id. Since the pandemic’s onset, Black people have accounted for a disproportionate 20 percent of the nearly 300 Americans with known mental illness who were fatally wounded during police shootings.2   
Mental health awareness is crucial in addressing these issues. It involves increasing public understanding of mental health conditions, reducing stigma, and promoting access to mental health services and support. When it comes to police shootings, raising awareness about mental health can help officers recognize and respond appropriately to individuals in crisis, de-escalate situations, and employ alternative strategies rather than resorting to lethal force. 
The issue of police shootings involving individuals with mental health conditions brings attention to the importance of making improvements in various areas such as improving training for law enforcement and providing increased resources to individuals who need the support.  By addressing these issues, we can work towards reducing the incidence of tragic outcomes and promoting the well-being and safety of individuals with mental health conditions. 

Trauma and other personal injuries are complexly connected and often intertwined, affecting an individual’s psychological well-being.  Whether the trauma stems from a single event or over a prolonged exposure, it can leave deep emotional scars.  This trauma can affect a person’s ability to cope with and recover from their personal injuries and this makes the healing time more challenging.  Sometimes personal injury can cause the trigger of emotional and psychological consequences.  The pain and discomfort from a personal injury can trigger or even exacerbate traumatic symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).     
Remember, raising awareness about minority mental health should not be limited to a single month. It’s important to continue these conversations and efforts throughout the year to promote better understanding, reduce stigma, and improve access to mental health resources for everyone. 
Mental health disparities among people of color have been well-documented, and there is a growing body of research examining the intersection of mental health and racial or ethnic identity.  
  1. Prevalence of Mental Health Issues: Studies have shown that mental health issues affect people of color at rates comparable to or sometimes even higher than the general population. For example:
    • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2019, the prevalence of mental illness among adults in the United States was higher for adults who identified as two or more races (25.5 percent) and for adults who identified as white (20.4 percent) compared to other racial or ethnic groups.
    • The National Latino and Asian American Study found that Latino and Asian American individuals had similar or higher rates of psychiatric disorders compared to non-Latino Whites.
    • Research also suggests that Black individuals may experience higher rates of specific mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.  
  2. Barriers to Mental Health Care: People of color often face significant barriers in accessing mental health care. These barriers can include: 
    • Limited availability of culturally competent mental health services.
    • Lack of health insurance or underinsurance.
    •  Stigma and cultural beliefs surrounding mental health in some communities.
    •  Language barriers.
    •  Socioeconomic disparities and limited access to resources.
  3. Disparities in Treatment and Outcomes: Disparities exist in the quality and outcomes of mental health care for people of color. Some studies have shown that:
    • People of color are less likely to receive mental health treatment compared to their white counterparts.
    • When receiving treatment, people of color may receive lower-quality care and have less access to evidence-based treatments. 
    • Disparities also exist in mental health outcomes, including rates of hospitalization and suicide.
Mental health disparities among people of color are influenced a complex mix of socioeconomic, cultural, and systemic factors. 
We are proud to acknowledge and celebrate May Jung’s unwavering commitment to supporting mental health awareness.  Our dedication to this important cause promotes understanding, empathy, and support for mental health awareness.  May Jung’s dedication to mental health awareness can take many forms, here are some ways you can participate: 
  1. Visit the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Facebook page: This page is a valuable resource to learn more about minority mental health and stay updated on events, initiatives, and information related to the awareness month.
  2. Tweet using #MinorityMentalHealth: Engage in conversation on social media by using the hashtag #MinorityMentalHealth in your tweets. Share relevant articles, firsthand experiences, resources, or messages of support to help raise awareness and reach a broader audience.
  3. Take the pledge to help raise awareness: Many organizations or campaigns associated with Minority Mental Health Month may offer pledges or commitments that you can sign up for. By pledging your support, you show your dedication to promoting better understanding and mental health in minority communities.
  4. Participate in Mental Health America’s #MyHealthMyWay campaign: Mental Health America (MHA) hosts an annual campaign to raise awareness about mental health in marginalized and underserved communities. This year’s campaign, #MyHealthMyWay, provides an opportunity for individuals to share their unique experiences, challenges, and strategies for maintaining mental well-being.
  5. Educate yourself: Take the time to educate yourself about the mental health disparities faced by minority communities. Read books and articles, or watch documentaries that explore these topics to gain a better understanding of the issues at hand.
  6. Organize or attend local events: Look for local events or initiatives happening in your community that aim to address minority mental health. You can participate, volunteer, or even organize your own event to create awareness and foster discussions.
  7. Support mental health organizations: Consider donating your time, money, or resources to mental health organizations that specifically focus on serving minority communities. This support can help these organizations continue their important work in providing accessible and culturally sensitive mental health services.