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There's So Much More To "Mental Health"

I need y'all to realize that there's just so much more to mental health.

I love this graphic because it simply shows the work still needed to be done.

One of the biggest reasons I focus so much on the vocabulary needed to name harm is because throughout my own mental health journey I've had several licensed practitioners shy away from terms that perfectly described my experiences. They steered clear of speaking on these topics, gaslit me and ultimately caused me more harm.

Some of the vocabulary they dismissed, refused to learn about and were uncomfortable with:

  • Xenophobia

  • Anti-Blackness

  • Texturism

  • Sexism

  • Fatphobia

  • Sizeism

  • Transphobia

  • Homophobia

  • Racism

  • Misogynior

  • Colorism

  • Intersectionality

A lot of this is tied to one of "my favorite" characteristic of White supremacy culture: Worship of the Written Word. The American Psychological Association (APA) did not acknowledge racism as a detriment to mental health until 2020. The APA did acknowledge the specific needs of LGBT clients in therapy but they have yet to update their only documentation on gender including the word "transsexual." My past practitioners like many others do not go outside of these organizations for knowledge, refuse to admit their knowledge base/understanding and dismiss lived experiences as valid.

Shoutout Meida Surya (She/Her) for introducing me to this much needed list.

Here are some facts that give a look into why we need systems that prioritize mental health:

  • LGB adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition.

  • Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals (people whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex) individuals to experience a mental health condition.

  • In 2018, 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S. had no form of health insurance. The Black community, like other communities of color, are more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes.

  • One study showed that 63% of Black people believe that a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 active duty military members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry.

  • Adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities.

  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have the lowest help-seeking rate of any racial/ethnic group, with only 23.3% of AAPI adults with a mental illness receiving treatment in 2019.

  • According to a 2015 assessment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 564,708 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. At a minimum, 140,000 or 25 percent of these people were seriously mentally ill, and 250,000 or 45 percent had any mental illness.

These facts show that at some point shouting "mental health" does nothing unless these systems change to proactively accommodate all, decenter Whiteness, remove stigma and provide basic human needs equally.

Organizations and individuals using specific vocabulary while naming systemic harm:

I hope y'all are taking the time to think about what "mental health" means to you and how much work you are putting into unpacking and demolishing these harmful systems.

If you appreciate this and the other work I do, actively support me! 💜

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