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Breaking barriers: Brining mental health awareness to minority communities

NAMI Greater Corpus Christi brought together a panel of diverse community members to discuss ways everyone from all different backgrounds can access help.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — July is Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and in recognition a group of community members came together to discuss ways for everyone to have access to mental health help.

"I am the United States of America Ms. Texas 2023," said Corpus Christi native Marissa Ortiz. 

Ortiz has dedicated the last five years to volunteering her time in the mental health community through organizations like the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

She said you might see her crown and sash and not realize she is also someone who suffers from anxiety and depression.

"You have the heart pounding, sweating and I didn't really realize what was going on. It hasn't disappeared.  I just learned how to manage and cope with it better through pageantry," Ortiz said. 

Heather Loeb said it's important to discuss mental health, but also making sure people know there are resources available to help. 

"A lot of cultures, there's a stigma attached to seeking mental health help and we want to break that barrier too," Loeb said. 

That is why the organization hosted a panel of community members, all from different backgrounds who came together to share their personal mental journeys.

"There are a lot of barriers like people who don't look like me, language barriers religion, cultural barriers," said Loeb.

214 District Court Judge Inna Klein was among those on the panel. Klein supervises the County's domestic violence probation caseload.

"When I'm working with people who have pretty severe mental health issues they will tell you, you are normal, you will not understand.  However, I have yet to meet a normal person," Klein said. 

Addressing the topic of mental health doesn't look the same for everyone. Statistics show that only 35% of Hispanic and Latino adults seek help for a mental health condition. 

"Hispanic culture you don't ever want to be the crazy tia," Ortiz said. "We are a very judgmental culture, the Hispanic heritage, you don't want to open up to your family. It's unfortunate to pay someone to keep your secret, that was my secret of my heart racing, anxiety or complete sadness or not feeling anything at all.  Going to a therapist who is Hispanic, she understood."

The panel said it's important for residents to find resources that can work for them and to do research, so they can know who to turn to for help.

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