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July is Minority Health Awareness Month

Anyone can experience mental health challenges regardless of their background. 

However, a person’s racial, ethnic, or cultural identity can shape and exacerbate these challenges in varying ways and make accessing mental health treatment much more difficult. The Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008 to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the United States and the reasons why these differences exist.

Systemic Racism

Racism is believed to contribute to mental health disorders by creating negative stereotypes that members of the stereotyped groups internalize, resulting in lowered self-esteem. It may further contribute by enabling discrimination which results in lower socioeconomic status and poorer living conditions in which poverty, crime, and violence are persistent stressors that can affect mental and physical health.


Individuals from certain racial/ethnic minority groups have shorter lifespans and higher incidences of many chronic physical disorders. Those who have both a mental and a physical disorder (comorbidity) are more likely to have their mental disorder missed or misdiagnosed because physical disorders tend to be prioritized by physicians. Even if their mental disorder is recognized and treated, people with comorbid disorders experience more drug interactions and side effects, given their higher usage of medications. 

Genetic and lifestyle differences

There is a growing body of research on subtle genetic differences that influence how medications are metabolized in certain populations. Similarly, lifestyle factors which include diet, rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and use of alternative or complementary treatments can interact with drugs to alter their safety or effectiveness.

Social Stigma and mistrust

Described by a U.S. Surgeon General’s report as the "most formidable obstacle to future progress in the arena of mental illness and health,” the term refers to negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate people to fear, reject, avoid and discriminate against those with a particular condition. Stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness held by members of minority groups have been shown to be more pronounced than those held by Whites. And a persistent, historically based mistrust of the health care system on the part of certain racial/ethnic minority groups plays a role.

Lack of understanding

Lack of cultural understanding by health care providers may contribute to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people from other racial/ethnic groups. Factors that contribute to these kinds of misdiagnoses include language differences, differences in the way mental disorders present across populations and subconscious biased beliefs held by clinicians about certain groups regarding aggression, intelligence, laziness, and other variables. 

Financial barriers

Compared with Whites, non-elderly members of minority groups were less likely to carry private health insurance. Even among those with insurance, the cost of deductibles and copayments, lack of transportation, lack of childcare, and inflexible work schedules often prohibit mental health care. However, the role of Medicaid in covering mental health care has increased in recent years.

OhioMHAS, in alignment with Gov. Mike DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative, is committed to creating a system to help make treatment available to all Ohioans in need. One strategy is to prioritize the ongoing development culturally competent, evidence-based practices that are targeted to and appropriate for all of Ohio’s residents in need of services. Another strategy is to purposefully recruit a larger and more culturally competent behavioral health workforce that is reflective of the diversity in our communities. 

Read tips for finding culturally competent mental health services.

Locate mental health services in your area.

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Governor DeWine Announces Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement


Governor Mike DeWine

March 2, 2020

Dan Tierney: 614-644-0957
Breann Almos: 614-644-0957

Governor DeWine Announces Early Childhood Mental Health Credential

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced the launch of Ohio’s new Infant Mental Health Credential for early childhood professionals, the first of its kind in the state. This credential provides professional development to support the social-emotional needs of Ohio’s youngest children. Early childhood professionals who hold this credential will have met the state’s minimum core standards.

 “When children are young, they are building the foundation for the rest of their lives. It’s important that we ensure they have the emotional and behavioral skills to succeed,” said Governor DeWine. “This new credential guarantees that those early childhood professionals have specialized skills and training to help young children reach their best possible wellness.”

Applications are being accepted through the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association. Early childhood system professionals working in the following categories may apply:

  • Child Care
  • Early Learning
  • Home Visiting
  • Community Health
  • Early Intervention
  • Maternal Health
  • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
  • Primary Health
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Any Additional Allied Health Professionals

For more information on Ohio’s Infant Mental Health Credential, please visit

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Governor DeWine Joins State Leaders to Announce First-Ever, Collaborative Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio


February 28, 2020

Dan Tierney: 614-644-0957
Breann Almos: 614-644-0957

Governor DeWine Joins State Leaders to Announce First-Ever, Collaborative Suicide Prevention

Plan for Ohio

(DAYTON, Ohio)—In response to an uptick in the number of deaths by suicide, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today joined with Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss and leadership from the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to introduce the first-ever, collaborative Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio that will direct the state’s suicide prevention efforts over the next three years.

“I can’t think of anything more gut-wrenching for a family than losing someone to suicide. In Ohio five people a day die by suicide, and a youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. These are sobering statistics and it will take all of us working together to make an impact and reduce the number of deaths by suicide across the state. One of the goals of my RecoveryOhio initiative is to address mental health and other issues that lead to death by suicide.  While the RecoveryOhio’s Initial Report offered preliminary recommendations that begin to address suicide, The Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio that we are releasing today furthers the conversation. It is meant to guide discussions and strategies among advocates, health partners, and state agencies as we work to prevent suicide,” said Governor DeWine.

“As a first step to further our shared vision, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working with the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and its members to develop a partnership with primary care and behavioral health providers, schools, parents, caregivers, and other community allies to increase suicide prevention and intervention practices,” said Director Criss. “Ultimately, this work will bring about a system-wide commitment to reduce suicides, build a competent, caring workforce, and reach all youth at-risk of suicide to get them the support and treatment they need.”

Under the direction of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes evidence-based suicide prevention practices, the plan was written by a group of 33 Ohioans from the public and private sectors who have professional or personal experience with suicide. The plan directs energy, focus, and resources to implement specific goals and objectives. These objectives were informed by data, evidence-based approaches, and lessons learned from current practice.

Among the plan’s priorities, the state will:

  • Raise awareness of the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.
  • Concentrate efforts on integrating suicide prevention practices into health care, public safety, and education services on the local and state levels.
  • Build suicide prevention capacity and infrastructure at the organizational, local, and state levels.
  • Focus prevention efforts on groups identified as having higher rates of suicide, including youths ages 10-24, males ages 25-59, and veterans and military members.
  • Standardize, gather, and utilize data to continuously inform and evaluate the state’s approach.

“The Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio was created so that all communities can see their role in suicide prevention, while suggesting specific goals to give benchmarks to the community,” said Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. “The plan promotes local cooperation that focuses on preventing suicide.  As more partners collaborate, we work to break down the stigma that surrounds the subject of suicide.”

In November 2019, the Ohio Department of Health released its 2018 Ohio Suicide Demographics and Trends Report, which contained the sobering news that five Ohioans die by suicide every day, and one youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. Nationally, U.S. suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 to access the Active Duty/Veterans Crisis Line) to speak with a trained counselor. Ohioans can also text the keyword “4hope” to 741 741.


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Heat-related illness in individuals using psychiatric medication

Some medicines and medical conditions can make the body overheat, especially during hot and humid weather. When the body overheats, heat-related illness can cause death if not treated. Almost all psychotropic medications except benzodiazepines (e.g. anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives) are among medications that decrease the body's response to heat. Alcohol, narcotics and street drugs can also affect heat tolerance. Read this brochure and check with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications to stay safe during hot weather.

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