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July is BIPOC Mental Health Month. We recognize the many layers of barriers that prevent people of color from receiving the support they need. We believe that all people deserve access to health care, especially in a world where Black, Indigenous, and people of color are systemically discriminated against. In an effort to continue advocating for the Black community and other underrepresented communities, we put together this brief guide on BIPOC Mental Health Month.

What is BIPOC Mental Health Month?

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Color) Mental Health Month highlights unique challenges that BIPOC, and queer and trans BIPOC (QTBIPOC), face related to mental health in the United States. It considers systemic barriers and historical adversity, and advocates for equitable mental health care for diverse communities.

How did it start?

In June of 2008 the “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month” was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles underrepresented groups face in terms of mental health in the United States. Bebe Moore Campbell was an author, journalist, teacher, and advocate for mental health in the Black community and other underrepresented communities.

Bebe Moore Campbell. Photo: Tom Herde/THe Boston Globe via Getty

Bebe Moore Campbell. Photo: Tom Herde/THe Boston Globe via Getty

This year’s theme: Strength in Communities

This year’s theme highlights alternative mental health supports created by BIPOC and Queer and Trans BIPOC for BIPOC and QTBIPOC.

Community care: The ways in which communities of color have provided support to each other. This can include things such as mutual aid, peer support, and healing circles.

Cultural care: The practices that are embedded in cultures that are passed down through generations that naturally provide resiliency and healing.

Source: Mental Health America Click HERE to learn more and download the 2021 BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit.

To learn more and see examples about community care, click HERE to see artist, immigrant, and mental health advocate, Kim Saira’s post on BIPOC Mental Health Month.


  • BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Americans living with mental illness:

    • 13% of Asian American/Pacific Islander Community

    • 15% of Latinx/Hispanic American Community

    • 17% of Black/African American Community

    • 23% of Native Americans live with a mental illness

    • 37% of individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ live with a mental illness.

  • 71.1% of licensed professional counselors (LPC) are white in the U.S.

  • Higher proportions of BIPOC people speak a language other than English, which can make language barriers and finding a local provider difficult and overwhelming.

  • Research has shown that BIPOC are:

    • less likely to have access to mental health services

    • less likely to seek out treatment

    • less likely to receive needed care

    • more likely to receive poor quality of care

    • more likely to end services early

Source: American Psychiatric Association, Zippia Career Demographics and American Counseling Association


While everyone – all colors – everyone is affected by stigma – no one wants to say ‘I’m not in control of my mind.’ No one wants to say, ‘The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.’

But people of color really don’t want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don’t want any more reasons for anyone to say, ‘You’re not good enough.’”

— Bebe Moore Campbell


common barriers to mental health treatment for bipoc

  • Language and communication barriers

  • Cultural differences and culturally-insensitive mental health systems

  • Socioeconomic disparities

  • Stigma and fear surrounding mental health treatment

  • Legal or immigration status

  • Racism, bias, discrimination, and incompetence in health care

  • Lack of adequate health insurance coverage

  • Mistrust of healthcare systems and providers

  • Lack of diversity/choices in providers

Source: American Counseling Association


Mental health treatment is incomplete without acknowledging a person’s…

Racial and Ethnic Identity

Being racially “colorblind” ignores the unique experiences of BIPOC and the layers of oppression that they may experience.

Racial Trauma

Failing to understand the impacts of systemic racial trauma, for both an individual and their community, disregards the entirety of a person’s lived experience.

Cultural background

Overlooking cultural context dismisses related values, beliefs, and experiences that contribute to a person’s unique identity and worldview.

Source: @curly_therapist


what you can do?

This is what you can do during and after BIPOC Mental Health Month to advocate for BIPOC & QTBIPOC mental health needs:

Examine the current structures and ask questions. Consider the various barriers to accessing mental health care like cost and stigma and whether the current framework is the best approach to providing quality services and meeting the needs of communities.

Push for BIPOC and QTBIPOC accessibility in traditional health care. Contact your local elected officials or use your channels like social media to talk about these issues. Call for expanded language services, culturally responsive provider training, expanded public education resources around health literacy, and more.

Hold organizations and institutions accountable. Ensure that the systems you are a part of are actively assessing how they contribute to the problems that exist for BIPOC and QTBIPOC mental health and support solutions to ensure change.

Combat cultural appropriation and give credit to originating communities of healing practices. Many BIPOC communities developed their resources and supports to address mental health needs. However, they do not always get credit for these practices if they become adopted by mainstream society.

Source: @mentalhealthamerica


Black/African American Communities:

Indigenous Communities:

Latinx Communities:

Asian and Pacific Islander Communities:

LGBTQ+ Communities:


Questions for bipoc to ask a therapist

  1. How much experience do you have treating people of my racial/ethnic group?

  2. What kind of training have you completed in order to remain culturally competent?

  3. In your opinion, what does it mean for a therapist to be culturally competent?

  4. How might you respond if I brought up white privilege, racism, and discrimination as a form of trauma or microaggressions?

  5. How does your cultural background impact your work as a therapist?

  6. Do you operate from a racial justice framework?

Questions for lgbtq+ and qtbipoc to ask a therapist

  1. How would you describe your experience treating clients who share my LGBTQ identity or expression?

  2. What training/evidence-based treatment do you have for issues that may arise related to my health and wellness?

  3. What is your position on so-called “conversion therapy” – attempts to change a client’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression?


  1. How do you define intersectionality and how do you plan to utilize an intersectional lens in my treatment?

  2. How can you help me navigate trauma related to the oppression I have and continue to face related to my QTBIPOC identity – understanding there are multiple systems of oppression impacting my mental health?

  3. What is your position on the mental health impact of navigating multiple systems of oppression?

Source: Mental Health America. Click HERE for more questions to help QTBIPOC find affirming mental health providers




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