People Of Color Reveal Their Mental Illnesses To Prove That These Issues Know No One Race

It's not a "white person thing."

One in five adults had been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2010, but if you believe the majority of those people come from one race, think again.

Per a 2012 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental HealthServices Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the largest group of people who have mental illnesses are not of one single race. People of two of more backgrounds comprised 25.4 percent of those with a mental illness, followed by Whites, then Blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asians. 

This wasn't very clear when Latina mental health activist Dior Vargas first researched the topic. 

"When I saw that there was a lack of POC representation in these discussions, I knew that I wanted to create a space where people could share their stories," she told A Plus. 

So in September 2014, Vargas, who has lived with depression and anxiety since she was 8, immediately called out to other people of color, asking them to open up about their diagnoses. Since then, she's received submissions from people of multiple races and varying mental illnesses — from depression to OCD to bipolar disorder. 


"I want POC to know that they aren't alone, that mental illness is not a "white person thing" and that mental illness is a varied experience," she told A Plus.

There's already a stigma against anyone battling or living with a mental illness, but that stigma is often magnified for people of color, largely in part due to cultural differences. 

For example, in some Asian cultures, mental illness isn't widely talked about or accepted. People often distance themselves from the person with the illness. According to a 2007 study, both Asian and Blacks saw mentally ill people as more of a threat, and distanced themselves from them more than Caucasians did. As for Latinos, they're far less likely to seek medical help than Whites do. 

"When Latinos think of mental illness, they just think one thing: loco," Clara Morato, who has a son named Rafaello with bipolar disorder, told CNN. "[Latinos] don't want to be labeled and they don't want to be labeled as the family with a relative who's crazy."

The result is many people who feel alone at best and, ultimately, go untreated. 

But Vargas wants that to change and putting their stories out there is a first step. 

"Mental illness isn't a death sentence and there are many people who thrive and can live fulfilling lives," she told A Plus. 

As her website states: "This is not something to be ashamed about. We need to confront and end the stigma."

Check out the people below that are helping to do that, one sign at a time. 

(H/T: BuzzFeed)


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