10 Things You Should Know About Minority Mental Health


July is Minority Mental Health Month! It’s dedicated to creating awareness and discussion about mental health in minority communities in order to increase their access to mental health care and treatment. We know mental illness affects everyone despite their differences, so we want everyone to work towards equality among mental health care.

Here are 10 facts about Minority Mental Health to get you thinking:

1. Teenage Latinas are more likely to die by suicide than African American and white, non-Hispanic female students. 

2. Less than 1 in 11 Latinos with mental disorders contact mental health care specialists.


3. In 2009, suicide was the second leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34.

4. LGB youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their straight peers.


5. Native American males ages 15-24 account for 64 percent of all suicides among Native Americans.


6. Among women aged 15-24, Asian American females have the highest suicide rates across all racial/ethnic groups.


7. In a 2006 study, suicide was cited as the third leading cause of death for African Americans ages 15-19.

8. Only 1 out of 3 African Americans who need mental health care receive it.


9. In 2012, 14 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives age 18-plus had co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. 


10. Recovery is possible for everyone.


If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention LifelineHead here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

If you want to learn more about minority mental health, here are some resources:

Native American mental healthThe National Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health ResearchMental Health America: Native American CommunitiesIndian Health Service Division of Behavioral Health

Hispanic mental health: National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental HealthThe National Latino Behavioral Health Association 

African American mental health: National Leadership Council on African American Behavioral HealthBlack Mental Health Alliance for Education and Consultation, Inc.

Asian American mental healthNational Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

LQBTQ mental healthThe Trevor Project

A version of this post originally appeared on the Active Minds Blog. To join the discussion about Minority Mental Health Month on social media, use #MMHM.




29 Mantras Currently Inspiring Our Special Needs Community


Sometimes, hearing a good quote can make a hard day a little easier. The Mighty wanted to know what phrases and quotes inspire our special needs community, so we asked our readers to share a mantra that resonates with them. Check out some of their responses below, and add your favorite mantra to the comments at the bottom.

1. “It’s not ‘handicapped,’ it’s ‘handicapable.'”

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Photo and quote submitted by Jennifer Owen

2. “It takes a village to raise a child.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Bridget Thompson

3. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” — Dr. Seuss

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Photo and quote submitted by Kerri Munro

4. “One day at a time. We’ll worry about the future when we get there!”

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Photo and quote submitted by Melissa Giambastiani

5. “I am not alone.”

Photo and quote submitted by Renee Wendy

6. “You will celebrate every milestone. What others see as mundane will be cause for celebration in your family.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Doris Glass-Heckert

7. “Tomorrow is a new day to start again!”

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Photo and quote submitted by Heather Smalley

8. “Just keep swimming!” —  Dory in “Finding Nemo”

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Photo and quote submitted by Cara Delaney

9. “It’s all about finding joy in the journey.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Brenda Powell Hunter

10. “Always hope for the best while expecting the worst, and be happy with the middle ground.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Christine Faressa

11. “The beauty of a flower exists only because of those passionate enough to nurture it.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Jamie Awtry McClintic

12. “This is your path. You wouldn’t be on it if you couldn’t do it.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Jill D. Powell

13. “Never give up. Never back down. Never lose faith.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Julie Enlow Craig

14. “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 

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Photo and quote submitted by Nina Viator Guthrie

15. “Be there today. Be there 100 percent. That’s all we have — today.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Geraldine Renton

16. “Bring it on.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Raquel Bercovich Wadler

17. “A diagnosis doesn’t change who your son is.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Jason Sims

18. “What’s normal?”

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Photo and quote submitted by Pam Piper

19. “I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I would change the world for you.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Britney Gardner Masucci

20. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Monique Kassi

21. “A caterpillar never lets you know the beauty it will unveil.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Joy Sexton

22. “A smile makes the world a better place.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Laura Sloate

23. “Life will be different than you imagined. Sometimes scary, sometimes amazing, but always worth it.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Michelle Louise Whitehead

24. “Our life may be different, but it’s a beautiful life.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Noelle Broschart Kei

25. “You never know how strong you are until strong is the only option left.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Ari Dennis

26. “All behavior is communication. Different, not less.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Heather Zink

27. “Learn to laugh.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Megan Taylor Watts

28. “The mighty oak was once a small nut that stood its ground.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Jaclyn Kulfan

29. “We don’t live like most families, but we are not alone.”

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Photo and quote submitted by Sophy Chaffee

I Dread Play Dates for My Child With Special Needs. This One Was Different.


“She’s doing so well,” his mom says to me.

We sit under a huge tree with a blanket beneath us and a cool breeze around us. I watch from behind my sunglasses as my 2-year-old daughter runs laps around the playground. Her blonde pigtails bounce with each step, and her giggles dance through the air. Her playmate walks a few steps behind her. He smiles as he inches closer and closer to where she stands. When he reaches her, he trips. She bends down to comfort him, and just as quickly, they’re off again.

“Thanks. She really is,” I respond. I’m filled with gratitude as I think back to this time last year when we attempted a park play date with other kids her age. She couldn’t keep up. They climbed fearlessly up the playground steps as she stumbled just to walk on the uneven, mulch-covered surface. They went down the slide with relative ease while she tried to hold her head and body upright. As the other mothers talked and stood a safe distance away from their children, I was right by my daughter’s side trying to help her navigate the playground equipment and doing my best to help her physically interact with her friends. I went home that night and cried myself to sleep.

I normally dread play dates. Park play dates are the worst. For me, they often resurface old worries and insecurities about my daughter’s progress and future. They remind me of the permanence of hypotonia in both of our lives. But when the opportunity to have a park play date arose with another mom and her son who also has hypotonia, I couldn’t pass up on the chance.

“Watching her really gives me hope. If she can do all of this, maybe he will, too,” his mom whispers, as she brings me back to our current reality. “She is just doing so good,” she repeats with a wishful smile on her face.

I know what his mom wants and needs: reassurance. She reminds me so much of myself, searching for other hypotonia success stories, promising myself that if that kid could walk, run, jump and dance, my daughter would one day, too.

What she sees on the playground is my daughter running enthusiastically, walking almost effortlessly and exploring her surroundings excitedly. What she doesn’t see is my own doubt. My concern over the fact that my daughter still can’t climb the playground steps unassisted. My bruised and bitten arms from one of my daughter’s meltdowns. My own desperate need for reassurance that things will turn out OK in their own way.

I decide to share with her my hidden fears and concerns, and together we search for reassurance. We question the impact hypotonia will have on the lives of our children. Will other kids be accepting of our children? Will friends include our children despite their differences? Will people value who are kids are over what they can’t do?

As we share, I watch as her son puts a bucket on his head and makes a silly face. Laughter erupts. He has an awesome sense of humor. When he scrapes his knee, my daughter lovingly takes his hand and walks him over to his mom. She has such a nurturing heart. They both smile and laugh throughout the entirety of the play date. There’s no doubt they’re happy kids.

What more could a parent or a friend ask for? Humor, kindness and happy spirits. Sure, they aren’t going to be swinging from the monkey bars any time soon or racing down the playground fireman’s pole with ease. But does that really matter? I’d rather be an expert at kindness than be an expert slide climber.

As the play date comes to a close, I give his mom a hug. I want to promise her that in a week, a month, a year, her son will be wildly dominating this playground — running, climbing and exploring — but I can’t make that promise. I wish I could tell her what the future holds for her own son, but the only truth I know about the future is that there are no guarantees. The one thing I’m certain of right now — in the present, sitting in this park — is that one’s worth can’t be measured solely on a park playground, and for that, I am thankful.

Ali Cummins the-mighty-07152015-004

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell a story about a time someone helped you and/or your child when you needed it most. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.


What It’s Like to See My Child With Epilepsy Fail His Medication


Last night I was wandering down the produce aisle when my phone buzzed with a text from my husband: “4 min seizure. this sucks!”

Our son, Bunz, is failing his meds.

He’s had seizures every night for the past week. And the ones we see are only the tip of the iceberg, eruptions from the electrical static always simmering in his brain.

Failing a medication looks messy and exhausting and frustrating. And it is. For everyone.

It looks like panic at 3 a.m. as we reach through the darkness to feel for Bunz’ trembling face.

It looks like a child’s red-rimmed eyes and pale cheeks. He’s so tired.

It looks like a lady choking back tears at the grocery store, trying to hold it together over stacks of neatly bundled asparagus. Remembering her son playing schoolhouse with farm animals on the living room floor, the afternoon sunlight streaming through the windows as a tiny cow tumbled down the toy slide. Why did she wait so long to get down and play with him? Why did she say she needed to finish her work first? What was wrong with that woman?

This morning we drove across the city for a hastily scheduled appointment with Bunz’ neurologist. For the first time since we’ve been coming here, the assistant didn’t lead us back to an exam room. She seated us in a conference room and asked us to wait a few extra minutes; the doctor was running late dropping off his kids.

I wondered about his kids — how it must be to have a home brimming with health and happiness. And a nice fat paycheck. All of this imagined, of course. Nobody’s life is perfect.

From a window overlooking the bay, Bunz counted one ship, two shuttle buses, one train.

The doctor came in. We looked at each other.

“So,” he began.

“Yes,” I said.

There was a silence.

Then, in what might be the most productive neurology appointment of all time, we scheduled a video EEG, an MRI and an MEG to try to pin down the location in his brain where the seizures begin. We discussed the possibilities. “Our new insurance provider will love us,” I thought.

The neurologist asked Bunz some questions; Bunz gave real answers. I felt proud, remembering a few years ago when Bunz didn’t understand the concept of a question – that you were actually supposed to respond. He’s come so far.

We must have seizure control, I decided.

We demand it.

After the appointment, Bunz and I sat on a bench outside the hospital and shared a blueberry muffin from the coffee cart. I told Bunz I was proud of him for working so hard, for learning so much and never giving up. Even when it’s not easy.

He nodded.

“I love you, too, Mama. Where are my Pop Chips?”

I drove him to camp. His beloved shadow aide is gone for the rest of the summer and a new session started today, so he had a different classroom. Change is hard on Bunz. “Don’t drop me off here!” he wailed, his lower lip trembling.

I left him on the playground.

He stood near the teachers and watched two girls play with the steering wheels on a play structure. When they walked away, he ambled over to take a look.

I watched him through the window. My stomach hurt.

When will this get easier?

Do you have a story about your experience with epilepsy? Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.



This New Apartment Building Will House People With and Without Autism


A new kind of apartment building is currently in the works in Heidelberg, Pennsylvania.

The Autism Housing Development Corporation of Pittsburgh and Diamond & Associates, an affordable housing development agency in Philadelphia, are building an apartment complex that will house people with and without autism in the same building, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The Dave Wright Apartments, which may be the first residency of its kind, will include 42 one- or two-bedroom units. Around half will be allocated for adults with higher-functioning autism who can live largely independently and are able to work. The other half will be filled with people who are not on the autism spectrum. In addition, the building will include six units designed for people with physical disabilities.

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A 3D rendering of the apartment building, courtesy of Elliot Frank

“It’s great that there are already different wonderful living opportunities for people with autism, but [those options are] still isolating them,” Elliot Frank, President of the Autism Housing Development Corporation of Pittsburgh (AHDCP), told The Mighty. “We’re going to integrate people within the building.” Frank has a personal stake in the project as well — he and Roy Diamond of Diamond & Associates both have sons with autism.

Frank says the inspiration for the project came about three or four years ago when he spoke with Randy Lewis, the former Senior Vice President for Supply Chain & Logistics at Walgreens, who’s worked extensively to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities.

“I wondered where those adults with disabilities who are able hold down those jobs live,” Frank told The Mighty. “When I talked with [Lewis], he told me they didn’t look into that. So that’s when the idea came to me.”

Physically, the building looks like any other apartment building — other than the units for people with physical disabilities, there’s nothing about the development that sets it apart from typical residence buildings. It also does not include 24-hour support staff. However, the AHDCP is taking a number of steps to ensure the apartments’ residents with autism are well integrated. The corporation is partnering with NHS Human Services in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, to help provide job counseling services for residents with autism. AHDCP also plans to partner with Goodwill Industries and Giant Eagle, a large supermarket chain, to help residents find jobs. Though support staff will not be on site at all times, they will be available during select hours. The development will host movie nights and other social events so residents with autism can interact with others and form a community.

Developers plan to break ground on the building in late July 2015 and open doors to residents by September 2016. Frank says he’s already heard feedback from many people who hope to apply to live in the apartments, particularly from parents who would like their adult sons and daughters to live there.

“The hope is that others will want to do the same thing we’re doing,” Frank told The Mighty. “It’s an experiment, but we think it’s doing to do really well.”

Information about applying to live at the Dave Wright Apartment is not yet available, but to learn more about the project, visit the AHDCP website.


This Was Arguably the Best Part of the Home Run Derby


If you tuned in to the 2015 Home Run Derby Monday night, at least one moment was guaranteed to give you the chills.

Marlana VanHoose, who is blind and lives with cerebral palsy, delivered a breathtaking rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” before the game.

Marlana, who is 20 and lives in Denver, Kentucky, was born with cytomegalovirus, a virus that can lead to retina inflammation. She was blind by the time she was just weeks old and wasn’t expected to live more than a year, according to her website. Marlana was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy at age 2, 

Marlana has sung at events all over the country. Many of her performances, like the ones at the University of Kentucky basketball game in 2012 and Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals, garnered national attention. Now, she can add this latest performance at the Cincinnati Reds stadium to the list.

Watch Marlana’s performance in the video below.

To learn more about Marlana, visit her website.

h/t The Blaze


Real People. Real Stories.

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We face disability, disease and mental illness together.