NAMI Greater Toledo is celebrating Minority Mental Health Awareness Month ( throughout July.) This week, we sat down with Aleiah Jones, Associate Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Success and Vice President of the Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio. Ms. Jones is also a member of NAMI’s Latino Leadership Initiative.
In your life and your work how do you see mental illness affecting African Americans/Latino-Americans/Arab Americans in the Greater Toledo area?
“Especially in my work with college students I see how folks in these groups are disproportionately affected by covid which also leads to an effect on mental health. Many people struggle with cultural norms around masculinity and a general lack of help seeking behavior that prevent them from getting the services they need. “
Do you think the Toledo community is doing enough to provide help or outreach to African Americans/Latino-Americans/Arab Americans suffering from mental health issues? What could be improved?
“I think there is a lot of room for improvement for agencies that provide mental health services. Agencies can and should be intentional about hiring folks who are culturally competent and bilingual. We have a large population of folks
who are new to the country or monolingual Spanish speakers with unique needs. The Latino population will only continue to grow and it is important that we meet people where they are.”
What is your perception of the role of stigma and how it affects African Americans/Latino-Americans/Arab Americans struggling with mental health issues?
“It plays a huge role in the Latino community. People have a fear of being labeled as weak and do not seek out help. There are cultural, familial and religious considerations for individuals living with mental illness. The general lack of
knowledge about mental health is just as relevant a barrier for folks.”
Do you know of any collective movement in the African Americans/LatinoAmericans/Arab Americans community working to improve services and resources for people struggling with mental health issues?
“Only NAMI’s Latino leadership Initiative!“
How can NAMI Greater Toledo help African Americans/Latino-Americans/Arab Americans with mental health issues?
“For all groups connect with grassroot initiatives in the community. Reach out to leaders within those communities to learn more about their needs. Then elevate those needs with all relevant stakeholders who have the power and resources to make real change. The importance of family in the Latino community is so prominent that remembering to encourage family involvement in services and care is critical.”
Tell me anything else on your mind regarding mental health and the African Americans/Latino-Americans/Arab Americans community in the Toledo area.
“NAMI is in a great position to hear from the communities they serve and elevate their voices to the broader Toledo area in order to create positive change. “
To get involved with our organization or learn more about free mental health resources available, visit namitoledo.org.