July 26, 2022

Minority Health Initiatives Seek to Raise Awareness of the Importance of Mental Health Through Storytelling and Community Activities

Montgomery County’s Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), African American Health Program (AAHP) and Latino Health Initiative (LHI) are collaborating as part of the County’s recognition of July as “Minority Mental Health Month” to bring awareness to the unique mental health struggles faced by racial and ethnic minority communities. The project will include collecting stories from minority community members about their mental health journeys, along with activities throughout the month.

County residents who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, African American/Black or Hispanic are encouraged to share their stories at Minority Voices- Personal Stories. Multiple languages are available by clicking on the drop-down menu at the top of the page. The stories will be collected through Aug.19.

The stories will be combined into a report to highlight both similar and unique challenges in mental health across minority groups.

“Health is wealth, and that includes mental health, “ said Betty Lam, chief of the Office of Community Affairs for the County’s Department of Health and Human Services. “I applaud our minority health programs for uplifting the voices of underrepresented communities by collecting stories from minority community members about their mental health journey and highlighting messages of hope and resilience.”

In addition to capturing Minority Voices—Personal Stories, each initiative/program is recognizing Minority Mental Health Month with various educational and outreach activities targeted to the community they serve.

Some of the ways that Minority Mental Health Month is being recognized will include:

Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI)

In response to the rising suicide rate and suicide attempts among Asian American youth in Montgomery County, AAHI launched a community toolkit focused on Adolescent Mental Health in English, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, and Vietnamese.

County community organizations are adopting these toolkits and are holding virtual workshops on the needs of Asian American adolescent mental health for the community on:
African American Health Program (AAHP)

To address the disparities of African Americans being 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, the African American Health Program (AAHP) and the Black Physicians Health Network provide resources, including the ability to see a mental health provider at no cost. Visit the Black Physicians Health Network website for more information and take a free online mental health screening.

In addition, AAHP is hosting community mental health screenings and webinars:

Thursday, July 28. 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. "Mental Health: The Elephant in the Room" Led by Dr. William Lawson. Register for the free virtual event.

Latino Health Initiative (LHI)

LHI, through Identity Inc., offers several programs to support the mental health of Latino and underserved residents and families.

Encuentros (Encounters) provides non-clinical trauma-informed emotional support groups through a series of nine sessions offered in Spanish. Participants share tools to cope with difficult situations, such as grieving, traumas and those specific to immigration and separation/reunification, managing anxiety, improving their self-care and learning to manage their emotions. For more information, contact Mónica Wainbarg at 240-750-3101 or mwainbarg@identity-youth.org or Anali Torres at 240-477-3227 or atorres@identity-youth.org.

The Family Reunification Services Program supports Latino families impacted by deeply rooted and mostly unaddressed intergenerational trauma. This evidence-based, trauma-informed program consists of five sessions of group-level programming for parents/caregivers and five sessions of group-level programming for youth. A final sixth session brings parents/caregivers and youth together. For more information, contact Tomas Rodriguez at 240-306-7188 or trodriguez@identity-youth.org.

For more information about the minority health programs, visit: