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National Minority Mental Health Month Raises Awareness In D.C.

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By Elliott Francis

July is National Minority Mental Health month. Last evening a community forum was held in the District to increase awareness of problems specific to people of color struggling with mental health issues.

At-Large D.C. City Councilmember Michael Brown hosted the event, which drew two dozen mental health advocates. Brown says although mental health issues don't discriminate when it comes to race, or income, the level of care for disinvested individuals is typically less than adequate.

"What can happen is that people of color can get left aside and not included in the larger plan on how to fix particular issues and find solutions," says

Dr Barbara Barzon is with the districts department of mental health. She says one of the setbacks in communities of color is the stigma associated with mental illness.

"A lot of that has to do with saving face, and some of the cultural ways about what you tell and what you don't tell," she says.

A study by the American Psychiatric Association reveals two thirds of all DC residents suffering from mental illness have not sought treatment for their condition.

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