SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Anyone can experience a mental illness — it doesn’t discriminate.
Organizations across the nation, including in Sedgwick County, are working to increase awareness of mental health among minority groups.
Minority groups — Hispanic, African-American, Asian and Native American — are more likely to experience factors that increase the risk for developing a mental illness, according to American Psychiatric Association.
These factors includes homelessness, exposure to violence, socio-economic factors, and a lack of knowledge about mental illnesses due to cultural barriers and mistrust.
“If we see an ethnic population who has the same issues as anybody else does, but is dramatically less likely to get help, we want to do anything that we can to get them the help they need,” said Eric Litwiller, with the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas (MHA).
Litwiller added the stigma of mental illness stops some minority groups from getting the help that’s already out there.
“Often times for cultural reasons or spiritual reasons, there’s a feeling that they just can’t ask for help,” he said. “Part of it is just the fact, depending on the group, there may be a feeling that we need to get help within our own community.”
If the resources don’t exist in that community, Litwiller said some won’t get any help.
MHA offers education, prevention, treatment and social services — but look for more ways to help those suffering mental illnesses.
“I don’t think organizations make enough of an effort to reach out to these minority groups,” said Litwiller.
The Sedgwick County Extension Office hosts an Asian Wellness Fair, which MHA attends. Litwiller hopes to see more similar events happening in the community.
“I think more opportunities have to be given so that these organizations, like ours, can come out and have booths and have information, and say ‘Hey we are here, not just for the general population, we’re here for you guys as well,'” Litwiller said.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Wichita is hosting a Minority Mental Health Fair on Thursday from 6:30-9 p.m. It’s happening at the Wichita State University Metroplex. More information can be found here.
If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing signs of a mental illness, there are resources in the community.