Teens create online resource for minorities with mental health issues
As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, teenager Desiree Adamos began to notice the adverse effects of the pandemic on mental health, especially among minorities.
She decided to do something and started her own organization: Mental Health Awareness for Minorities.
The fledgling group, formed last July, now has 15 members from county schools and aims to tackle the mental health issues facing minorities by raising funds to support people who otherwise would not have access to affordable therapy or medication.
“I realized when we entered the pandemic that many minorities and minority populations were suffering from very unique mental health issues,” said Adamos, an up-and-coming senior at Olympian High School. “These mental health issues include generational trauma and how societal expectations have distorted our perception of ourselves.”
The group also works to educate others and expand awareness of these issues by producing articles and explanations for their website, mhaforminorities.wixsite.com/home. So far, they’ve published nine articles covering everything from kissing your natural hair to pride in retaining your culture as a first generation immigrant.
Aiden Yoshikawa, a student at Otay Ranch High School, published an article in June highlighting the lack of education about mental health issues in minority communities, as well as the significant barriers that members of those communities face when ‘they try to ask for help.
He highlighted the lack of resources and cultural stigma as two of the common difficulties.
“I think it’s important to tackle the root of many mental health issues, such as the common lack of mental health education and illiteracy in mental health topics, to have the context to fully understand mental illness and mental health issues. ” Yoshikawa said in an interview.
Although this is a group that started in part in response to the pandemic, the students hope to continue their efforts well beyond because they know the need existed even before COVID-19.
During the pandemic, Pew Research found that 48% of Hispanics faced medium to high levels of psychological distress, as did 44% of blacks and 34% of Asians.
But before 2020, medical professionals had already sounded the alarm bells about untreated mental health issues in communities of color.
For example, Mental Health for America – a national nonprofit organization that has been promoting mental health treatment since 1909 – found that more than 4.8 million black Americans reported suffering from mental illness in 2017. However, many of them did not receive treatment that year, including 58.2% of young black adults with serious mental illnesses and 50.1% of black adults aged 26 to 49 with serious mental illnesses. .
“The organization plans to move forward as we come out of the pandemic,” Yoshikawa said. “Set up funds, charities or donation systems so that we can give back to the community while continuing to function as an organization that informs and educates on topics related to mental health. “
Neve Walker is a member of UT’s Community Journalism Scholarship Program for High School Students.