Dear Bernie: Our Mental Health Isn’t a Punch Line for Your Jokes

There is a huge stigma around mental illness and it directly affects whether people seek treatment. Whites are the most likely to get treatment for mental illness, with Blacks and Latinos getting help at half the rate of Whites. According to the 2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report, Asians get even less help — clocking in at only one-third of the rate of Whites. But it’s not just treatment that’s affected by race; we see a difference even in the acknowledgement that people are struggling. As a general rule, people of color don’t talk about mental illness. We suffer silently.

Throughout high school, I struggled with self-harm, depression and substance abuse. While college has been exponentially better, my latest episode could easily have been my last.

So when presidential candidates make a joke of mental illness on national television, I am pained. Here are two Democratic candidates whom I support and who claim they care about the accessibility of mental health care.

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