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WHEREAS, Bebe Moore Campbell, an acclaimed African American author, educator and journalist, fought to increase awareness and decrease stigma surrounding mental health in both minority and underserved communities; and
WHEREAS, in 2005, Bebe Moore Campbell, with the help of friends and community members, established a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce, with goals of encouraging people to receive mental health services, as well as advocate for the creation of a National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month; and
WHEREAS, in 2008, Congressional Leaders designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which many now commemorate and recognize as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month; and
WHEREAS, the prevalence of mental health conditions in BIPOC populations is due to, but not limited to, historical and generational trauma associated with systematic and institutional racism, acculturation, isolation, religious intolerance, stereotyping, and rejection – all of which must be opposed on every level; and
WHEREAS, elected officials, medical professionals, businesses, institutions, and organizations must do more to support equitable access to mental health services and alleviate socio-economic disparities by creating and investing in sustainable policies that will improve the lives of BIPOC individuals and families; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative that all Virginians work together to defeat stigma, beliefs, and attitudes towards those living with mental health conditions so that more individuals will take the necessary steps to obtain the care that they deserve; and
WHEREAS, we understand and recognize the importance of increasing the number of BIPOC professionals in the field of mental health services, and that cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and social connections between patients, doctors, therapists, and providers do matter and often result in more effective care; and
WHEREAS, public education campaigns and access to resources play a critical role in helping BIPOC individuals realize that it is ok to seek help and that a mental health condition should never define who someone is;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize July 2020 as BLACK, INDIGENOUS, PEOPLE OF COLOR MENTAL HEALTH MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.