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July 9, 2021

July Is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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“Exclusion doesn’t need to be practiced in order to be felt. Exclusion is its own practice.” – Kathryn D’Angelo, co-author

One of the things I had to come to terms with when my children were first diagnosed was the fact that my daughter’s diagnosis of anxiety had reached a level of clinical depression and I was not aware of it.  She was suffering in silence while battling within herself trying to understand why she was scared of the slightest things, anxious about school, and family situations. While I assumed that she was just a moody teenager who did not want to be around us. I would unconsciously stop asking her if she wanted to go out with me and her brothers sometimes. It’s only when I started to read about anxiety that I realized that she was not moody and that I needed to make conscious efforts to include her even when I thought she may not want to socialize.

Our BIPOC friends and family members may be suffering in silence with mental health issues. They may act a little differently than we expect. They may be more quiet than we hope. They may be more standoffish than we like and in turn we tend to treat them differently either on purpose or by accident. We exclude them from activities simply because we don’t know how to interact, engage or communicate with them. This exclusion practice is not good for them or us and the month of July is focused on making sure the practice of exclusion is no more for our mental health challenged friends and family in BIPOC communities.

July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. Let’s break down the title.


This acronym has been used more so during 2020. BIPOC stands for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” Often, we hear “People of Color” being used in reference to Black people. No. It shouldn’t be as this acronym clearly states.

Mental Health

Mental Health is the status or gauge of a person’s psychological, emotional and social well-being. It directly affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Depending on the wellness or illness of a person’s mental state determines how one copes with stress and decision-making.


To be aware is to know. Period. Awareness is the understanding of something.

And so, we rephrase: July is Understanding the Mental Illness Factors and Effects of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Month.

That Was Then – The History of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

Who is she? She is BeBe Moore Campbell, the woman behind the movement. Ms. Campbell was a force advocating for minority mental health on a national level. From 2003 to her passing in 2006, she made a powerful impact in mental health awareness focusing on Black communities. In 2005, while on her tour for her book 72 Hour Hold, about bi-polar disorder, Ms. Campbell was successful in getting July declared as National Minority Mental Health Month. In her own words, “I’m hoping churches civic organizations, radios, TV, PSAs will go out and will get some education and some de-stigmatization around the issue of mental illness particularly in the communities of color.” However, it wasn’t until 2008, the United States House of Representatives designated July as “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.” Yes, quite a lengthy yet worthy title.

During 2020, efforts were made to rid the word “minority” in society because it had a separation connotation. Thus, BIPOC became more and more popular as an inclusive word/phrase/term. While July is now called BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month by many, it will forever be truly named after Ms. Campbell as it very well should be. From now on I will say, July is BeBe Moore Campbell BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. Removing her name is like removing her work, and society has done enough of that where BIPOC is concerned.

“When we finally stop asking America to love us and begin to love ourselves, we will prosper as a people.” – Bebe Moore Campbell

This Is Now?

When asked if a special effort had to be made for people of color, Ms. Campbell responded with, “Absolutely! ... African-Americans really react adversely to being seen as having another deficit.”

“… another deficit.” We know the first deficit. So that compacted with “another deficit,” adds to if not equals systemic racism. July’s month of awareness is crucial outside of our community and within our community. We need doctors, therapists, teachers, co-workers, managers, etc. to be aware and take notice as well as friends, family and loved ones. Going back to Kathryn’s quote about exclusion, it’s felt. We want our loved ones to feel included regardless of their possible or proven mental illnesses. Ms. Campbell once said, “It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”

The only way getting treatment will happen is after acknowledgment and after acceptance. That’s when being proactive becomes possible.


I’ll leave you with this quote from lifestylist and podcaster, Kendra Lendsey: “Being quiet doesn’t mean things are peaceful.”

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