Championing Mental Health and Substance Use Prevention: Honoring National BIPOC Mental Health Month

July 1, 2024

On this occasion, we are acknowledging Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness about the unique mental health challenges experienced by BIPOC communities in the United States, as well as emphasizing the crucial connection between mental health and substance use prevention. This month serves to highlight the necessity for culturally responsive and culturally sensitive care and aims to diminish the stigma around accessing mental health services.

BIPOC Mental Health Month is incredibly important because it:

  1. Addresses Disparities: BIPOC individuals often face significant obstacles in accessing mental health care, including stigma, a lack of culturally competent and responsive providers and socio-economic challenges. This month brings attention to these issues and advocates for systemic changes.
  2. Promotes Awareness and Education: By focusing on the specific mental health needs of BIPOC communities, we can build greater understanding, reduce stigma and encourage individuals with mental health challenges to seek support and resources.
  3. Highlights the Intersection with Substance Use Prevention: Mental health and substance use are closely linked. Many individuals with mental health conditions also struggle with substance use disorders, making integrated approaches to prevention and treatment essential.

The Intersection of Mental Health and Substance Use Prevention

Mental health challenges and substance use disorders frequently co-occur, especially within marginalized communities. Factors such as stress from discrimination, economic disparities, and historical trauma contribute to higher rates of both mental health challenges and substance use1. Addressing these issues necessitates a comprehensive approach that acknowledges and tackles these interconnected challenges.

What Can Prevention Professionals Do?

As prevention professionals, we play a crucial role in bridging the gap between mental health and substance use prevention for BIPOC communities. Below are some key actions that we can take to support BIPOC communities and create healthy spaces:

  • Provide culturally competent and responsive care.
  • Partner with BIPOC community leaders and organizations to better understand the community’s needs of and develop targeted prevention programs. Building trust within these communities is crucial for effective intervention.
  • Develop and promote integrated prevention strategies that address both mental health challenges and substance use. Screening for both issues and providing holistic care can improve outcomes.
  • Provide ongoing education and training for staff on the intersection of mental health and substance use within BIPOC communities. This should include recognizing the signs of co-occurring disorders and understanding the impact of systemic racism on mental health.

Resources for Further Learning:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) TIP 59: Improving Cultural Competence guide helps professional care providers and administrators understand the role of culture in the delivery of mental health and substance use services. Additionally, you can visit our Products and Resources page to learn more about the unique needs of diverse populations and how to improve health outcomes for marginalized groups.

As we observe BIPOC Mental Health Month, let’s reaffirm our commitment to supporting the mental health and well-being of all individuals, particularly those from marginalized communities. By recognizing the unique challenges faced by BIPOC individuals and taking concerted action, we can make a meaningful difference in both mental health and substance use prevention.


  1. Gameon, J. & Skewes, M. (2021). Historical Trauma and Substance Use Among American Indian People with Current Substance Use Problems.
  2. Mental Health America. (2023). BIPOC Mental Health Month.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2024). BIPOC Mental Health.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Closing the Treatment Gap.
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