Iowa Equity Challenge Day 12

Day 12 of 21


Mental health issues almost certainly affect someone you know —  a family member,  a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or even yourself. 


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 1 in 5 adults, or roughly 600,000 Iowans, live with some form of mental illness. In 2019, suicide was the 9th leading cause of death in Iowa. Even more shocking, it was the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-34.


And mental health concerns have only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.


Additionally, NAMI reports that 60% of all Americans with mental health conditions do not receive the mental health services they need in any given year. Black and Latinx Americans use mental health services at about half the rate of whites. Asian Americans receive mental health treatment even less often — at about a third the rate of whites. 


The root causes behind these disparities may include: 

  • Racism
  • Homophobia or other conscious or unconscious biases
  • Lack of access to services in the community
  • Lack of cultural competence in service delivery
  • Stigma

It’s time to provide support, educate our peers, and end the stigma of living with a mental illness.



Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the stigma around mental health and how it impacts people of color.
  • Understand how mental health issues affect people of color differently than white individuals.
  • Learn how the language we use can impact how we think about people with mental health issues.


Today's Activities


Choose one or more of these daily activities to learn about today’s topic. Plan to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to complete the activities and journal about your thoughts and feelings. 


Read “Stigma Regarding Mental Illness among People of Color” (3 min) from the National Council for Mental Well-Being to learn why brain health issues continue to be stigmatized for many.


Watch “If You're Not White It's Harder To Get Mental Health Care” (4:03) from AJ+ to learn about five barriers that make it harder for people of color to access mental health care.


Listen to “Mental Health, Trauma and Black Communities” (35:02), an episode of the Why Race Matters podcast, to hear a licensed therapist talk about mental health struggles within Black communities.


Capture what you learned by writing down your thoughts and feelings about today's content.

  • What was your “aha moment” (moment of surprise or new information)?
  • Does this information change your perspective?
  • How will you use what you learned today to create more equitable spaces? 
  • How does the language used every day perpetuate stigma around mental health?

Download a free journal page for today.


Additional Resources & Activities


If you would like to dig deeper into this issue, check out these additional resources. We encourage you to revisit this material when you have more time. Feel free to come back to this topic as often as you’d like!




Share your reflections on today’s topic on social media using the hashtag #IowaEquityChallenge.



Next Topic: History of Experimentation & Impact of COVID-19