Each July, the CDC recognizes the month as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to bring awareness to the unique struggles that minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

“A lot of people are not even aware of whether or not they have good mental health,” said Mike Edmonds, a local minority resident.

First established in 2008, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder that mental health knows no boundaries.

However, in minority communities, individuals often face unique challenges when it comes to seeking help.

Statistics show that minority communities often encounter higher rates of mental illness, such as depression or PTSD.

“I didn’t, until 55 years old, realize I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD,” said Edmonds when asked about his battles with mental health.

However, these groups are also less likely to seek help due to stigmas surrounding it. Edmonds admits he was once one of those people. He says untreated childhood trauma eventually snowballed as he grew older.

“[It] caused me to shut down or intentionally become numb to some things. From nine until now, it took me decades and counseling in my fifties,” he said.

To address disparities for people like Edmonds, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness actively work to bridge the gap by offering services catered to the unique needs of the people who walk through their door.

“We work to try to reduce the stigma of mental illness in order to encourage people to seek help, to seek assistance, and try to be the best person that they can be,” said Tara Turek, the Communications and Events Director for NAMI Southern Arizona.

These days, Edmonds finds mental peace through martial arts. He encourages others to shake the stigma and work towards finding what brings them mental clarity.

“Try not to let judgment from others affect how you can gather tools, gather knowledge, move forward, and strengthen yourself,” he said.

If you or anyone you know is seeking assistance with your mental health, resources can also be found at the 988 Lifeline.