Did you know that April is National Minority Health Month?
The state of our mental health can significantly impact our overall health. Although mental health problems can affect everyone regardless of ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation, minorities are at risk of experiencing poorer mental health outcomes. Minorities are also at risk of experiencing stress at higher rates. According to the American Psychological Association, racial/ethnic minorities experience greater stress than their white counterparts, leading to disparities in the mental and physical health of racial/ethnic minority populations. Risk factors of poor overall health outcomes include the inaccessibility of high-quality mental health services, the cultural stigma surrounding mental health, distrust in the healthcare system, and a prevalent lack of understanding about how our mental health can impact our overall health.
It is crucial to understand how stress affects different groups to learn to address and manage its disproportionate impacts within our communities.
Maintaining overall health and wellness includes taking care of our mental health. Stress is an inevitable part of life that can be situational, brief, and even beneficial. Stress can provide the motivation and stimulation required to cope with demanding situations, such as completing a big school project. Stress can also provide a sense of urgency and alertness needed for survival under threatening conditions. Nonetheless, unchecked stress can negatively impact our mental and physical health and contribute to headaches, digestion problems, skin breakouts or irritation, insomnia, and ulcers, among other issues. Excessive and unrelieved stress can have more damaging and long-term effects on a person’s mental, physical, and spiritual health.
What can we do to address the long-lasting consequences of stress? Learning to identify potential stressors is primary. Next, we must find positive ways to cope with stressors, including incorporating self-care activities into our daily schedule. It is okay to take a breath and a healthy time away from everyday life and find ways to incorporate self-care activities. Allow yourself to be aware of the emotion in the present moment and challenge yourself to find a positive way to cope.
Take a look at the “Handling feeling stressed” worksheet for a quick activity that will help you identify and deal with stress in your body.