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Minority Mental Health Month 2017: #NotACharacterFlaw

July was designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in 2008 to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the United States (US).

While the term ‘minority’ is traditionally associated with racial, ethnic, or cultural minorities within the US, Mental Health America (MHA) recognizes that identifying as a minority means identifying with a multitude of different experiences and traits. MHA understands that mental health issues need to be addressed with a unique lens when working with individuals and families with diverse values, beliefs, and sexual orientations, in addition to backgrounds that vary by race, ethnicity, religion, and language.

#NotACharacterFlaw Campaign (2017)

July is Minority Mental Health Month #NotACharacterFlaw

We are complex beings that can’t be categorized into neat little boxes – and neither should our experiences.

However, there are shared misconceptions among many minority and/or marginalized communities that we must address to change the way we think about mental illness. Especially, when we begin to recognize that mental illness is often treated as an individual weakness, or character flaw, among these populations.

In 2017, MHA’s Minority Mental Health Month campaign, #NotACharacterFlaw explored stories told by individuals who identify as part of a minority community about their experiences with mental illness and recovery. We hope that sharing these stories will encourage underrepresented communities to speak out about how mental illness affects them and remove the stigma associated with these conditions.

MHA believes it is important to encourage people who are willing to share their experiences with mental health while considering cultural implications and influence.

Download the 2017 Minority Mental Health Month Toolkit

#NotACharacterFlaw Quotes

Mental health in my community is not seen as a priority, because there are other more important things in life such as putting food on the table or a roof over our head. But people don't realize, that without mental health, we can't function to do all of those things. It's #NotACharacterFlaw.-Michele


Mental illness in the Latino community is not talked about openly. When it is, some people may think that depression, anxiety, etc. is caused because someone did something wrong, but we know that mental illness is #NotACharacterFlaw, but a real issue.-America

Mental health problems in Indian communities are seen as a choice - something you can will away if you try harder or change your frame of thinking. Indians need to understand that mental illness is #NotaCharacterFlaw-Sachin

Black women are taught that we are strong beings who can handle anything. The notion of the 'always strong black woman' prevents many of us from finding the help we desperately need. Seeking support is a sign of our strength and is #NotaCharacterFlaw-Laqwanda

We will not hide. There is no shame. We will not suppress our feelings, our thoughts, our challenges. We will share and share openly. We will seek out the love and care of our friends and our family - because they struggle as well. We will not judge. We will embrace. Because mental illnesses are #NotaCharacterFlaw.-Theresa

The Impact of #NotACharacterFlaw

Across social media, individuals shared their stories using #NotACharacterFlaw to bring attention to their experiences and to help encourage others to speak out about mental illness and remove the stigma associated with these conditions.

#NotACharacterFlaw reached 1.6 million people over four weeks - speaking volumes to the great need there is to promote mental health outreach and public awareness among minority communities.

We were also honored with powerful testimony to the strength of storytelling against mental health stigma in minority communities:

MHA believes in the power of storytelling - that all people have a right to speak out about their experiences with mental health.

We encourage everyone to continue to share their stories - especially as it relates to different cultures and backgrounds – and learn more about how cultural and institutional stressors can affect mental health all year, and not just during Minority Mental Health Month.

This is precisely why I tell my #story about living with #depression. We must support the people in our community who live with a #mentalillness. We must step out of the darkness because too many lives have been lost.