DACA Weighs on Some During BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month
Monday, July 24, 2023
Racism and discrimination act as stressors to increase mental health vulnerability, according to experts, especially for BIPOC individuals; Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
July is BIPOC Mental Health Month and highlights mental health challenges including discrimination, oppression and inequality, which can contribute to collective and individual trauma.
Victor Romero-Hernandez, advocacy and policy associate for Equality New Mexico, believes a long-awaited decision about the future of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, weighs heavily for many right now.
"It's in the courts and we're waiting for a decision," Romero-Hernandez explained. "To be in legal limbo like that, I think is very difficult for folks."
Last October, a federal appeals court said the DACA program is likely illegal and should be eliminated. At the same time, legal experts expect the case to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Romero-Hernandez pointed out those struggling to find help from counselors, therapists or other mental health professionals can visit the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at nmcrisisline.com.
Most mental illness goes untreated, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, especially in communities of color.
Romero-Hernandez believes trauma can be something people feel they are supposed to live with.
"In my experience, growing up as an undocumented kid, I was always very confused as to why I had to hide parts of myself to society," Romero-Hernandez recounted. "That definitely contributed to some mental-health stuff."
A lack of insurance coverage is often cited as the reason for not seeking mental health services by racial and ethnic groups. Some 52% of white people with any mental illness received services in 2020, compared with 37% of Black residents and 35-% of Hispanic residents.
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