“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans. . . . It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”
– Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005 congressional testimony
Journalist and best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell used her voice and personal story to build awareness of the challenges Black Americans face in supporting their mental health. She called attention not only to the intense mental health stigma felt by Black people, “who already feel stigmatized by virtue of our race,” but also to their distrust of the medical establishment based on a history of misdiagnosis and overmedication.
Campbell urged African Americans and all people of color to seek help for mental health challenges and to press for better diagnosis and treatment. And she urged Congress to take action.
In 2008, almost two years after her death, Congress passed a resolution to improve access to mental health care. The resolution also established Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, now commonly known as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] Mental Health Month, to be observed each July.
A time to recognize disparities and do more to support BIPOC mental health
This year, in observance of BIPOC Mental Health Month, it’s important to recognize the continued mental health disparities and inequities faced by BIPOC populations. Indeed, research shows that young adults experiencing continued discrimination are at higher risk for mental health challenges throughout their lives. Moreover:
- African Americans are 20% more likely to experience psychological distress than whites but half as likely to get mental health treatment due to stigma, fear of judgment, and a shortage of Black mental health professionals, among other factors.
- Anxiousness, stress, and depression are 15%–21% higher in Black youth than in the general youth population, according to our Calm 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report.
- Forty-nine percent of Hispanic people feel nervous, anxious, and stressed more than half the time or nearly all the time, while 43% of white people do.
For employers, BIPOC Mental Health Month is an opportunity to provide resources across the spectrum of mental health care, including preventive tools. Calm research found that Hispanic employees, for instance, want more preventive support for mental health, as well as support that aligns with their culture and identity.
Calm resources to support the mental well-being of BIPOC employees
To help support the well-being of BIPOC employees, Calm has curated a selection of preventive mental health resources featuring artists, experts, and mindfulness teachers representing BIPOC communities. These tools can break down the mental health stigma and help employees reduce stress and anxiousness, build resilience and self-care skills, and get better sleep.
- Soothing the Body for Rest, Dr. Eric Lopez Maya
In this 45-minute mindfulness session, Dr. Eric Lopez Maya guides listeners to relax into deep rest with a compassionate body awareness practice. With 20+ years of teaching mindfulness, Dr. Maya is a PhD psychologist trained at Harvard, Brown, UMass, and UCLA. He’s the Director of the Mexican Institute of Mindfulness.
- Radical Self-Care, Lama Rod Owens
Listeners can discover the tools of self-care and create a nourishing practice of reflection and rest. Owens is a meditation teacher, best-selling author, and activist specializing in helping people care for themselves. His work invites you into the cross-sections of his life as a Black, queer man born and raised in the South.
- Breathe into It, Camila Cabello
Global superstar Camila Cabello’s ride to success hasn’t always been smooth. In her exclusive wisdom series Breathe into It, she helps listeners reduce stress and anxiety through never-before-told stories. With her debut solo album CAMILA, Cuban-born singer-songwriter Cabello reached the #1 spot on the Hot 100, Billboard 200, and Artist 100 charts in the same week.
- Train Your Mind, Volume I, LeBron James
In this wisdom series, LeBron James opens up his playbook for mental fitness for the very first time. James is a world renowned four-time National Basketball Association champion and MVP.
- Mindfulness Tools with U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy
Dr. Murthy narrates a series of three-minute mindfulness exercises designed to help listeners deal with change and uncertainty, combat loneliness, get through a hectic day, and deal with negativity in the world. Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is the 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States and a renowned physician, researcher, entrepreneur, and author.
- Slowing Down, Tabitha Brown
In this Sleep Story, narrator Tabitha Brown inspires listeners to find their own path while leading them on a heartening walk through a North Carolina forest. Brown is an actress and social media influencer who draws viewers into her online content world with a combination of humor, veganism, compassion, and motivational speaking.
- Working with Thoughts, Chibs Okereke
In this three-minute meditation, Chibs Okereke helps listeners shift perspective on their thoughts. An experienced stress and burnout specialist and Accredited Mindfulness Facilitator, Okereke provides organizations, teams, and individuals with practical, scientifically validated mindfulness, mindset, and productivity tools to reduce stress, prevent burnout, and get more done in less time.
Believing that every person deserves to thrive, Bebe Moore Campbell fought to break down barriers to mental health care, especially for historically marginalized and underrepresented people. This BIPOC Mental Health Month and beyond, employers can build on the foundation she helped create by taking a preventive, proactive approach to mental health and providing resources that align with the culture and identity of BIPOC employees.
For more information on how Calm Business can provide mental health resources to support your BIPOC employees, contact a specialist today.