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National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Professor embarks on 10,000-mile motorcycle ride to raise awareness

Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, skin color and other similar reasons, continues to be a problem in the U.S. While this has resulted in economic inequalities, it has also caused a host of mental health problems, which often have a negative impact on the mental health of racial minorities. As minorities have a greater prevalence of mental illness as compared to the White population, they, along with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, face greater mental health risks due to various disparities working against them.

Among those trying to spread awareness about the prevalence and treatment of mental health disorders among minorities is Professor Robert A. Horne from the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham. To promote his cause, the 55-year-old professor revved his bike on July 1, 2017, to start his cross-country journey which is estimated to last the month of July. The effort is a part of the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (NMMHAM) and is aimed at raising awareness about mental health, especially among minorities. Through his 10,000 mile trip, the professor hopes to raise $30,000 to assist underserved communities struggling with mental health and addiction. The money collected would go to the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation, the Uganda Counseling Association and the NCCU Counselor Education Program.

In addition to raising funds for the mental health of minorities, Professor Horne also hopes to encourage cultural competence in services pertaining to mental health and substance abuse treatment for various communities across the nation. He also wishes to divert necessary attention towards the need to reduce inequalities in access to various mental health and addiction services.

Starting from Durham, Dr. Horne would first go to Maine, from where he would ride on to Washington, California and would then end the tour in Florida.

Speaking against stigma

Fully aware of the disparities that exist in the field of mental health services and substance use among minorities, Professor Horne, a former Marine, is committed to making a difference by speaking out against the stigma surrounding mental health. He advocates building cultural competency and diversity of health care professionals and reducing the existing health care disparities that exist among communities. Deeply passionate about his work in the areas of mental health and substance use, he knows the importance of creating change, building relationships, and most importantly, giving back.

Supporting Professor Horne is Professor Edward Moody, Chairperson, Department of Allied Professions, NCCU. According to him, the goal of the trip is to encourage people to treat their mental health disorder just like any other illness. “Stigma often gets in the way of everything that keeps people from getting treatment. You see it with people of color, you even see it with people with religious backgrounds.”

Mental health disparities among minority population

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), each year, the mental health of millions of Americans is affected with an estimated one in every five adults experiencing a mental health disorder in a given year. Disproportional representation of poverty and poor access to mental health services remain among the leading causes of mental health disparities in minority populations.

Keeping the welfare of minorities in mind, in May 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives decreed the month of July as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The month aims to improve access to mental health services and treatment and enhance public awareness pertaining to mental health illness among minorities.

Seeking help is important

At Sovereign Health, we understand that racial discrimination can lead to psychological and physiological stress responses that contribute to negative health outcomes in individuals. A leading behavioral health care provider, Sovereign Health provides top-notch customized treatment programs to each of our patients irrespective of their ethnicity.

To learn more about the evidence-based mental health treatment programs offered at our state-of-the-art mental health facilities or to know about our events, call our 24/7 helpline number 855-969-5557. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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