July is BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) Mental Health awareness month. BIPOC women can have different or additional mental health needs as a result of their unique experiences in the world. For specific mental health resources for BIPOC folks, scroll to the bottom of this post.
Women experience discrimination, safety issues, oppression, and other challenges that impact their mental health. Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color experience the challenges of sexism coupled with racism, discrimination, and more.
These problems are experienced in jobs, education, health care, neighborhoods, family, and can even be internalized. Migrant women of color can face these as well as language barriers and socioeconomic status related problems. Now add trauma to that mix and you can see how mental health could be severely impacted.
Experiences ranging from violent hate crimes, to having assumptions made about you, to systematic oppression, take a heavy toll on mental health. It's extra work emotionally, mentally, and physically. Having to navigate a world that is unsafe in a myriad of ways, along with invalidation, dismissal, lack of awareness from others, all truly affects a person’s wellness.
What’s worse is our healthcare system, including mental health care, can often contribute to these issues. Black women are labeled as angry and combative, Asian women meek and lacking assertiveness. Physical health issues are blamed on the patient instead of being looked at with historical context. And normal reactions to the abnormal experiences of these women (again, prejudice, violence, oppression) are pathologized. For example, instead of a mental health care professional saying “of course you feel depressed, look what you’ve been through” they could view the client as the problem for not doing enough to take care of themselves.
We need culturally capable mental health care from an intersectional lens. I
ntersectional feminist health care looks at all the contextual factors impacting a person. This means looking at each person as a unique individual and getting to know their circumstances and the contributing factors to their concerns. What is their experience as a woman? What is their experience as a woman who is Asian? What is their experience as a woman who is first generation American? And where do these identities intersect and overlap. Examining historical and generational trauma, understanding cultural differences, not making assumptions about someone’s experiences, recognizing that diagnostic tools and treatments are most often designed by and tested on white, cis males.
It’s important for you to have care suited to your individual needs by informed and trained professionals. See below for a list of larger organizations working with specific groups of people.
Members of dominant groups such as white folks, men, religious majorities and other majority groups can utilize therapy to address biases and assumptions that they may have. The confidential and nonjudgemental space of therapy is the perfect place to ask questions you may have but may have been too afraid to ask elsewhere. It’s a space to explore beliefs you may hold or judgements you may have about a minority group without having to worry about being thought of poorly. Like heart surgeons, therapists treat all people regardless of background or belief system. And all therapists should be doing the work to examine their own judgements, assumptions, and work to remain objective so if you don’t feel that’s happening, have a conversation with your therapist or find one that is a better fit for you.
Interested in learning more about Virago Wellenss' Team? Click here.
http://thefocusonyou.com/ Self-care, mental health and inspirational articles written by a Latina Therapist.
https://aapaonline.org/ Asian American Psychological Association
https://www.apiahf.org/ Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum
https://www.nqttcn.com/ National Queer and Trans Therapist of Color Network