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Mental Health

The Importance of a Positive Self-Esteem

What is self-esteem?

According to the American Psychological Association it is “the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person’s physical self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person.” Not only does having a positive self-esteem mean valuing yourself but also that you value your capability to achieve. Your self-esteem is how you define yourself as a person including your personality, physical body, talents, and how other view you. Each individual focuses on different aspects for their self-esteem. 


Having a high self-esteem doesn’t mean that you think you are perfect. Your self-esteem can fluctuate. Having a positive self-esteem is important for your mental health. Having a positive self-esteem allows you to have coping skills that help you handle negative aspects. It also allows you to deal with stress in healthier ways. There are multiple ways to improve your self-esteem. A few examples are building positive relationships, seek support, and journal positive things in your life. Building positive relationships can help by staying positive. Seeking support such as finding a therapist to discuss strategies to help. Journaling positive things in your life can also help you focus on aspects you are happy about. These are small steps remember that we are building habits that contribute to a positive self-esteem. 


For continued learning, please reference the below sites:





Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

Stress and Anxiety

Identifying stress and anxiety can help you find the necessary tools needed to stay healthy. Stress is caused by an external trigger while anxiety is the persistence of worries. Stress and anxiety are normal responses from the body to danger. The cause of stress is in response to a recognized threat. Anxiety may not always have an identifiable trigger. While stress is short-term, anxiety is a long-term experience. Sometimes stress can turn into anxiety. Stress is the body’s reaction to a threat. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress. I have attached a great chart created by Georgia Hope that provides the similarities and difference between anxiety and stress. 

Ways to help cope with stress and anxiety are: journaling, downloading relaxation apps, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding drinking caffeine, and reaching out to family or friends. Journaling can help you not only express your feelings but can help you identify when you are feeling stress or anxiety. There are great applications to help guide you to relaxation. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help you tackle stress. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep you are more irritable and less patient. That being said, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Avoiding caffeine is important because when you drink caffeine you elevate your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in the body. Lastly, reach out to your family and friends. A strong support system is important as they can reduce our stress and uplift our moods. You should seek out help if you are having difficulty doing normal daily activities. 


For more information on stress and anxiety, please see the following resources:


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.


Meditation and Breathing Interactive Webinar

In these challenging times, we invite you to take time for yourself and your self care. Join two of our counselors as we work on meditation and breathing techniques.

Please note the date and time change:

Tuesday, February 22nd, 4:15pm – 5:15pm Central Time

Please join us for this free interactive webinar by registering here.

For questions about this webinar, please contact us at info@zcenter.org.

Support and Resources during the Holidays

This can be a joyous and festive time of year for many. It can also be a time when sexual assault survivors feel triggered, a time when abuse within families becomes more prevalent, or a time when basic needs are unmet. We at ZCenter hope to support you in whatever way we can. Please look through our list of resources and self-care ideas if you are experiencing this time of year as challenging. May we all have the support we need.


General Assistance

For general information about Lake County resources, including shelter, food, counseling, hotlines, etc., please reach out to United Way of Lake County by calling 211.

For United Way of Metro Chicago, call 311.

Sexual Abuse, Assault, or Harassment

  1. ZCenter’s Crisis Hotline: 847-872-7700
  2. ZCenter general information: 847-244-1187 or info@zcenter.org
  3. RAINN national hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
  4. Polaris Project (for human trafficking) hotline: 800-373-7888

Domestic Violence

  1. A Safe Place for Help Crisis Line: (847) 249-4450 or 1-800-600-SAFE
  2. A Safe Place for Help general information: (847) 360-6471 or info@asafeplaceforhelp.org
  3. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
  4. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence hotline: 800-799-7233

LGBTQ+ Resources

  1. LGBTQ+ Center Lake County has compiled a list of resources for the LGBTQ+ community in Lake County, found here.
  2. National Suicide Prevention 24-hour Lifeline: 800-273-TALK
  3. The Trevor Project 24-hour Hotline: 866-488-7386

Servicios en español

  1. Mano a Mano – Round Lake (Bilingual family resources, advocacy): (847) 201-1521
  2. La Paloma (housing, counseling, abuse/trafficking survivors): 847-731-7165 x190. For immediate crisis: 800-600-SAFE (800-600-7233)
  3. HACES: Hispanice American Community Education and Services – Waukegan (Immigration, family resources,DACA, Bilingual GED): (847) 244-0300

Mental Health/Suicide

  1. Text-A-Tip is a 24/7 anonymous text crisis hotline offering emotional support for middle school and high school youth. Simply text LAKECO (and your message) to the number 1-844-823-5323.  Within seconds, you will receive an automated response, and within minutes a live mental health counselor will respond to your text.  All messages are sent through a cloaking server located offsite that keeps the communication completely anonymous.
  2. The Lake County Health Department’s Crisis Care Hotline: 847- 377-8088
  3. SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  4. NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  5. Nicasa Behavioral Health Services (Behavioral/Emotional Support, SubstanceAbuse): (847) 546-6450 or info@nicasa.org
  6. National Suicide Prevention 24/7 LifeLine: Dial 988, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) en español: 1-888-628-9454
  7. National 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741


Self-Care During the Holidays

The National Suicide Prevention LifeLine recommends the following for self-care ideas for December and beyond. 

  • Take a walk outside
  • Write a love letter to yourself
  • Write about something you are grateful for in your life (it can be a person, place, or thing)
  • Create a happy playlist and a coping playlist
  • Treat yourself to a favorite snack
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Forgive someone
  • Forgive yourself
  • Say thank you to someone who has helped you recently
  • Create a DIY self-care kit of things that make you feel better
  • Take your medication on time
  • Take a new fitness class at the gym (yoga, Zumba, etc.)
  • Plan a lunch date with someone you haven’t seen in a while
  • Pamper yourself with an at-home spa day
  • Take a day off from social media and the Internet
  • Reach out to your support system
  • Cuddle with your pets or a friend’s pet
  • Take the time to stop, stand and stretch for 2 minutes
  • Wake up a little earlier and enjoy your a morning cup of tea or coffee before the morning rush
  • Take a hot shower or bath
  • Take yourself out to dinner
  • Volunteer
  • Start that one project you’ve been contemplating for a while
  • Sit with your emotions, and allow yourself to feel and accept them. It’s okay to laugh, cry, just feel whatever you’re feeling with no apologies!
  • Cook a favorite meal from scratch
  • Take a 5-minute break in your day
  • Compliment someone (and yourself, too!)
  • Give yourself permission to say no
  • De-clutter your mind: write down 5 things that are bothering you, and then literally throw them away
  • Donate 3 pieces of clothing that you no longer wear
  • Take the time to find 5 beautiful things during your daily routine
  • Take a mental health day from school, work, etc.
  • Take a nap
  • Reach out to the Lifeline


Written by Kristin Jones, PhD, EdM, Outreach Supervisor. 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.


How does trauma affect children’s emotional well-being?

When children go through a traumatic event such as a sexual assault (SA), they must have a support system of parents and guardians there to ensure not only their physical safety but also their mental and emotional safety in the aftermath. It is not a surprise that children who experience trauma will have their world changed, but fortunately, there are things we can do to support them through this time and those changes. Trauma can occur across a variety of situations from being impacted by broad natural disasters all the way down to more personal and specific events such as SA. Trauma is a complex concept because every individual adapts and reacts differently from non-existent or acute reactions all the way to severe and chronic reactions; so viewing trauma as a sliding scale is essential in adjusting to a new normal after a traumatic event. Further, it is worth noting that two individuals can experience the same type of event or even the exact same event and still be impacted very differently, therefore different supports and approaches in healing are necessary. 

Now, to unpack how emotions in the brain are impacted by a trauma, this blog post indicates that SA is a traumatic event, and so in the aftermath of a trauma any of the upcoming information can occur. Trauma can specifically impact emotions for children by changing their ability to process and respond to emotions- which is called “emotional regulation.” All children are unique in how they experience the world, but understandably, when trauma occurs there is an added layer of difficulty for their growing brains to comprehend the world around them. The goal of this blog post is to give parents, guardians, and caretakers insight into the psychology of childhood emotional regulation and how they can support their child or any child through one of the most difficult things someone can experience. Below are some common questions one might ask in the aftermath of a trauma and when they are preparing to help a child heal. Accompanying each provided question is a response supported by trauma-informed scientific evidence that reveals what you can do to support your child through changes and challenges.


What happens to my child’s emotions when they experience a trauma?

A certain part of the brain called the amygdala can be impacted for those who experience trauma. The amygdala is responsible for emotional intensity including how we perceive and react emotionally. This can mean that children who undergo trauma have a greater experience of emotion compared to their peers, and that may be a lot for their body to handle since their brain hasn’t finished developing or understanding emotions yet. Further, scientists have studied the brain and the amygdala to reveal that there can be a decrease in brain activity in the amygdala which in turn can impact emotional regulation (Thomason et al., 2015). What this means is that structurally there will be some changes in the brain for your child after a trauma; so, as parents and guardians taking the time to work through emotions manually with a child can be very beneficial for the child to lighten the load of the emotional material they are working to process, since it can be too overwhelming to handle themselves. Of course, it is always important to recognize that not all children will feel comfortable expressing their emotions in a timeline you might expect, so as someone supporting them, we need to respect and understand their boundaries and decisions while continuing to make sure they have access to support.


How do I know if my child is struggling with healthy emotional regulation?

Children process emotions around the trauma and in day-to-day life as the event can impact pre-existing healthy emotional regulation because the child may soon experience emotional dysregulation which would not be considered healthy. To see if your child is struggling, there are certain signs that you can look for to indicate if dysregulation is happening. A child may experience prolonged states of sadness, they may lose interest in activities they typically love, or they may withdraw from peers or family in a social setting. These examples can all reflect symptoms of depression, indicating that healthy emotional regulation is not happening. Depression can specifically stem from struggling to “reappraise emotions” meaning that it impacts our ability to understand something from a different or more positive perspective (Skymba et al., 2020). Children especially can struggle in coping with negative emotions regardless of experiencing trauma because they tend to “ruminate” or replay their thoughts and emotions in their minds which further intensifies their feelings. We can support an individual through this by seeing a licensed therapist that can help them unpack these thoughts/emotions and give them the space to positively reappraise emotions, which in turn can decrease depression and set the child up to practice healthier emotional reappraisal and regulation techniques.


What are other ways trauma can affect a child? 

It is not uncommon for other health issues to occur aside from depression, so it is important to be in tune with what may be going on in your child’s head and what you can look for to help them. Aside from ensuring that the child is physically safe after a trauma, we need to make sure they are mentally safe as well. There is evidence of not only depression but also anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurring in individuals who experience trauma (Ford et al., 2018). While this is no guarantee that your child will or will not experience these types of mental health struggles at any point following trauma, parents and guardians need to be aware that these things can and do happen. It is also important to understand that not everyone reacts to trauma the same way, and so the ways we support someone and the emotions they experience need to be adjusted to meet them where they are at and not where you want them to be. You can expect some changes in your child before and after experiencing a trauma, but you should closely monitor for instances of great emotional intensity, instances of muted emotional intensity, or instances that demonstrate incoherent emotions and be able to respond accordingly in those situations. 

Furthermore, because trauma can impact the way children process and respond to emotions since their brains are doing more processing than normal in the wake of a trauma, a child could potentially experience impact to both existing and developing friendships. Because a child can experience hardship in understanding and processing the emotions of others, play can be difficult because the interactions may be frustrating or confusing in the aftermath of trauma. Friendships are an important support system for children and for younger children play is very positive for growth and development, so as a caretaker it is important to support your child through these now potentially difficult experiences by providing them resources and support.


Are these effects long-term?

As mentioned above, certain brain structures and certain emotional processes are impacted by trauma. However, these impacts are typically not a forever-state and rather will result in a delayed development instead before resuming processes as they were before a trauma. When a child (or anyone for that matter) has experienced a trauma, their body and brain are working overtime to maintain “normalcy” and make sure they are okay. Because time and energy may be devoted so long to other areas, there is a trend of delayed development for children specifically in the processes that allow them to understand the emotions of others during their emotional regulation. Limited research exists to assess how the brain functions before and after trauma since trauma is unpredictable, but the general agreement amongst psychologists is that wherever the current emotional developments are they will pause in response to trauma. This is not meant to be alarming, but rather to let us know that a child is going to need extra support and understanding when dealing with not only their own emotions but when interacting with the emotions of others as well (Van Schie, 2017). Further, it is important to know that specifically, reappraisal does not develop linearly through childhood and adolescence, but rather it is a workable skill (even for adults!), so having a delayed development is not detrimental so long as we continue to work with and support children in building this skill (McRae et al., 2012).


What can I do?

It is important to know that as a parent or guardian, you are very important for helping a child heal, but it is also important to know that support systems look different for each individual. One important thing in healing from trauma is knowing that there is no “right way” to do things, rather finding your own way is the best option and making sure that you meet your child at their level of needs. Support can take the form of group therapy, individual therapy, having a family support system, attending family therapy, partaking in art or play therapy, and so forth to make sure an individual has the necessary resources to heal. There is evidence that being in these types of therapy settings and focusing on positive emotions in those such environments rather than ruminating or focusing on the past can decrease symptoms of depression in children in the aftermath of the trauma (Thomas et al., 2011). Further, parents should choose not to focus on the stress of the situation, but rather on the wellbeing of their child; it creates an environment that allows for positive emotions to flourish later in life for the child which is important for the healing process as it does not provide an environment for rumination to occur (Langevin et al., 2016). Parents can practice mindfulness in approaching this situation and play a part in decreasing the negative thoughts a child replays in their mind, since you are modeling healthy emotional behavior as well by doing so. Because parenting styles can easily be changed to adapt to our children, we must take the steps to support the child and adapt to their needs as they grow (Moreira et al., 2018). Mindfulness is another topic on its own, but for some parents/guardians it may be worth looking into as a way to personally cope and process while supporting a child through a trauma.


What happens now?

Ultimately, all of this information demonstrates that trauma such as SA can impact a child, but as a parent, by taking part in their social support system we can help the child in better understanding their emotions and coping not only day-to-day but long-term as well. It is important to understand that having this information is a good step in moving forward and supporting children every day through one of the most challenging things someone can go through by having these questions answered, but we cannot forget that recovery is a process and not a destination. The Zacharias Center offers free counseling services that can be done in group therapy or individual therapy format to support that process. The phone number to reach the Z Center 24-hour support line is (847)872-7799, and this line is available to support survivors as well as their loved ones who are experiencing the trauma with them. As humans we really are resilient, and so recovery and healing will continue to be the desired outcome for those impacted by a trauma because through work it is attainable. Providing resources, reducing rumination and worrying, giving support to build coping and reappraisal skills, and ensuring that individuals have the specific mental tools to cope are all wonderful ways to foster resilience. The assistance of professionals or therapists who can help a child to discover those tools and resources also provide wonderful support options and pathways to help a child heal in the aftermath of a trauma.


Written by Haley Wold, ZCenter Volunteer from Lake Forest College.

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.




Ford, Brett Q., Sandy J. Lwi, Amy L. Gentzler, Benjamin Hankin, and Iris B. Mauss. 2018. “The Cost of Believing Emotions Are Uncontrollable: Youths’ Beliefs about Emotion Predict Emotion Regulation and Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 147 (8): 1170–90. doi:10.1037/xge0000396.supp (Supplemental).

Langevin, Rachel, Martine Hébert, Dansereau, Claire Allard, and Bonnin, Anne‐Claude Bernard. 2016. “Emotion Regulation in Sexually Abused Preschoolers: The Contribution of Parental Factors.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 29 (2): 180–84. doi:10.1002/jts.22082.

McRae, Kateri, James J. Gross, Jochen Weber, Elaine R. Robertson, Peter Sokol-Hessner, Rebecca D. Ray, John D. E. Gabrieli, and Kevin N. Ochsner. 2012. “The Development of Emotion Regulation: An FMRI Study of Cognitive Reappraisal in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults.” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 7 (1): 11–22. doi:10.1093/scan/nsr093.

Moreira, Helena, and Maria Cristina Canavarro. 2018. “The Association between Self-Critical Rumination and Parenting Stress: The Mediating Role of Mindful Parenting.” Journal of Child and Family Studies 27 (7): 2265–75. doi:10.1007/s10826-018-1072-x.

Skymba, Haley V., Wendy Troop-Gordon, Haina H. Modi, Megan M. Davis, Anne L. Weldon, Yan Xia, Wendy Heller, and Karen D. Rudolph. 2020. “Emotion Mindsets and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence: The Role of Emotion Regulation Competence.” Emotion, December. doi:10.1037/emo0000902.

Thomas, Renu, David DiLillo, Kate Walsh, and Melissa A. Polusny. 2011. “Pathways from Child Sexual Abuse to Adult Depression: The Role of Parental Socialization of Emotions and Alexithymia.” Psychology of Violence 1 (2): 121–35. doi:10.1037/a0022469.

Thomason, Moriah E., Hilary A. Marusak, Maria A. Tocco, Angela M. Vila, Olivia McGarragle, and David R. Rosenberg. 2015. “Altered Amygdala Connectivity in Urban Youth Exposed to Trauma.” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 10 (11): 1460–68. doi:10.1093/scan/nsv030.

Van Schie, Charlotte C., Anne-Laura van Harmelen, Kirsten Hauber, Albert Boon, Eveline A. Crone, and Bernet M. Elzinga. 2017. “The Neural Correlates of Childhood Maltreatment and the Ability to Understand Mental States of Others.” European Journal of Psychotraumatology 8 (1). doi:10.1080/20008198.2016.1272788.

November Lunch & Learn Webinars

Join us for our November Lunch & Learn Webinars. Each are free, but we do ask that you register in advance.


Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and How It Affects Our Veterans

Thursday, November 11

12:00pm Central Time

Register here.

Sexual Assault and the Law

Thursday, November 18

12:00pm Central Time

Register here.


73 Seconds: A ZCenter Podcast

ZCenter offers a fresh new perspective on sexuality, healing after trauma, and community activism. The podcast, 73 Seconds, refers to the statistic that every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Since the start of our podcast, RAINN.org has updated this statistic to show that it is now every 68 seconds (RAINN, 2021), only reinforcing the need for public education and efforts to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence.


For an edgy and delightful hour of conversation, check out our most recent episode, Let’s Get Cozier. We interview Jean Cozier, long time supporter of sexual assault survivors and founder of Awakenings, a gallery in Chicago that showcases artwork made by survivors of sexual violence. 


As you skim through episode topics, you’ll see that we highlight local community partners, discuss national social justice topics, and converse about the healing process after sexual abuse. 

Catch 73 Seconds on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts.


For questions and inquiries about the 73 Seconds podcast, please contact sbrennan@zcenter.org.

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.


RAINN: Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. 2021. Statistics. https://www.rainn.org/statistics


Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in Relation to Sexual Assault Survivors

Although we have an understanding of the importance of mental health awareness in the month of May, we need to differentiate minority mental health in July to signify the intricate hardships that minorities may face from stereotypes, sexism, systematic oppression, and classism. The objective is to accentuate the attention that needs to be considered for minorities battling mental health adversities. Mental health disorders do not discriminate against age, gender, race, ethnicity, or identity. The unfortunate reality is that we need to focus on emphasizing mental health for various minority groups. Additionally, individuals who need mental health assistance contributes significantly to sexual assault statistics at staggering numbers. Even more so when investigating minority groups. 


The Context of Minority

A person who identifies as a minority is one who does not consider themselves a part of the dominant culture in society. Who might be a minority? Well, it can simply be anyone whose identity does not align with white, higher income, male, heterosexual, Christian, and able-bodied individuals. The word minority also may represent the differential of power between majority and minority groups alike, and can make individuals who identify with such groups feel a sense of inferiority compared to those of the dominant culture (Bryant-Davis et al., 2010). 


Why Does Minority Mental Health Matter?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, gay men experience higher levels of risk of adverse health problems such as mood disorders, suicide, substance abuse, and anxiety (Messih, 2018). This can become problematic if individuals who need proper mental health care feel as if barriers are hindering them being able to have access to quality care. Furthermore, there are conceptualizations in unrepresented communities about causes and cures of mental illness as well as the stigma that follows being diagnosed with a disorder. The purpose of minority mental health awareness month is not meant to imply that the dominant culture’s mental health is not a priority, but rather that we need to acknowledge the auxiliary attention that must be presented to promote quality mental health care for people of unrepresented communities. Although there is treatment for those with mental health disorders identifying as a minority, there are many barriers to receiving accessible and proper mental health care.


Barriers to Seeking Mental Health Care May Include:

    • Lack of resources
    • Financial burden/lack of insurance
    • Social stigma/ shame of mental illness
    • Location of treatments and offices
    • Bilingual services 
    • Cultural beliefs
    • Mistrust of the mental health system





Mental Health and Sexual Assault on Minority Groups

Generally, we see an increase of minority and sexual orientation groups have higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicide ideation, and many other mental health disorders due to societal traumas and factors. According to SAMHSA (2010), over 70% of African American adolescents diagnosed with major depression disorders did not receive treatment for their condition. In relation to sexual assault,  it is evident that the crime can increase the likelihood for developing a mental health disorder. More specifically, survivors of unrepresented communities underutilized treatment and care. Women may not be able to seek out assistance to alleviate the distress caused by sexual assault with possible consequences of victim blaming due to racism, classism, sexism, and other forms of systematic and societal trauma.  


Sexual assault on minorities with those of mental health disorders has become an epidemic due to the lack of knowledge of resources and cultural barriers for individuals seeking help. In addition, the prevalence of negative outcomes following from sexual assault demonstrates that it is common for women to develop serious mental health challenges after being sexually assaulted. Research suggests that there is a disproportionate amount of sexual assault among underrepresented people, and with lack of proper mental health care can be detrimental for their wellbeing. Ethnic minorities experience more symptoms of PTSD and anxiety such as Latina women having significantly more psychiatric hospitalizations and anxiety following a rape than white women (Jacques-Tiura et al., 2010). Comparing the Caucasian group to African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and American Indian groups exhibits a significant increase in mental health disparities because of societal hardships. Individuals across all ethnic minorities who do not receive professional help, often search for other ways to heal such as self-medicating. Cultural and societal oppression may lead to feeling shame, isolation, or a lack of safety that can negatively impact a person’s well-being and deplete their coping mechanisms in a crucial moment of crisis. 


You Are Not Alone

The structure of the mental health services demonstrates insufficient resources of culturally appropriate services that may help to serve the minority populations regarding sexual assault. By recognizing the need for awareness for ethnic and cultural differences of rape survivors, society will be able to adequately prepare to respond to the needs of sexually abused women identifying as a minority with a mental illness. By standing together, we can envision a nation where any individual affected by a mental health disorder or a sexual assault have access to the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy and fulfilling lives. ZCenter strives to offer a place where no one feels alone in their struggles.


Written by Adella Moss, Intern, Northern Illinois University

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.



Bryant-Davis, T., Ullman, S. E., Tsong, Y., Tillman, S., & Smith, K. (2010). Struggling to survive: sexual assault, poverty, and mental health outcomes of African American women. The American journal of orthopsychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3870142/ https://wp.nyu.edu/steinhardt-appsych_opus/ethnic-differences-in-the-experiences-of-sexual-assault-victims/.

Campbell, B. (2005). Learn About Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Bebe-Moore-Campbell-National-Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month/Learn-About-Bebe-Moore-Campbell-National-Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month.

Jacques-Tiura, A. (2010). Disclosure of sexual assault: characteristics and implications for posttraumatic stress symptoms among African American and caucasian survivors. Journal of trauma & dissociation : the official journal of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20373205/.

Messih, M. (2018). Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations. https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/cultural-competency/education/mental-health-facts. 

SAMHSA. (2010). Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Results from the 2010 NSDUH: Mental Health Findings, SAMHSA, CBHSQ. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHmhfr2010/NSDUHmhfr2010.htm. 

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