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Mental Health Disparities Within Minority Communities

Apicha Community Health Center Aug 19, 2019  

Apicha CHC - iStock

Taking care of your mental health is important for everyone. However, for minorities, it is sometimes easier said than done.

There are notable disparities in availability, quality, and accessibility to mental health services for minorities. Additionally, there is often stigma associated with discussing mental health in some of these communities. In this blog, we're going to talk about the challenges and stigma minority communities face when it comes to mental health.

What data tells us about mental health and minorities

Minorities often suffer from untreated mental health problems, and sometimes end up receiving lower quality care. The following statistics and data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reflect these challenges:

  • In 2017, 41.5% of youth ages 12-17 received care for a major depressive episode, but only 35.1% of black youth and 32.7% of Hispanic youth received treatment for their condition.
  • Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic group.
  • In 2017, 13.3% of youth ages 12-17 had at least one depressive episode, but that number was higher among American Indian and Alaska Native youth at 16.3% and among Hispanic youth at 13.8%.
  • In 2017, 18.9% of adults (46.6 million people) had a mental illness. That rate was higher among people of two or more races at 28.6%, non-Hispanic whites at 20.4% and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders at 19.4%.

Apicha CHC - iStockChallenges in receiving care

While some minority individuals do seek out mental health care, they are faced with challenges -- some of which cause people to neglect seeking help entirely. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, these are some of the top reasons minorities struggle with or do not seek care:

  • A lack of availability
  • Transportation issues and difficulty finding childcare/taking time off work
  • The belief that mental health treatment “doesn’t work”
  • The high level of mental health stigma in minority populations
  • A mental health system weighted heavily towards non-minority values and culture norms
  • Racism, bias, and discrimination in treatment settings
  • Language barriers and an insufficient number of providers who speak languages other than English
  • A lack of adequate health insurance coverage (and even for people with insurance, high deductibles and co-pays make it difficult to afford)
The problem of stigma

Culture -- which is a set of shared beliefs, norms, and values -- affects the way individuals view themselves, others, and the world around them. It also impacts people's perspective on mental health, and sometimes in a negative light. In some cultures, talking about mental health or seeking professional care is met with stigma. Cultural stigma can influence whether minorities choose to seek help, and what kind of help the seek out as well. 

In some cultures, talking about mental health is a sign of weakness or shame. In others, seeking out mental health is a concept met with fear and skepticism. Stigma can prevent someone from seeking help or talking to a loved one about their mental health. And as a result, an individual's mental health can suffer.

Apicha CHC - iStock

What can we do?

For many people, telling someone about their mental health concerns isn't easy. Often times, cultural stigma, poverty, and social norms prevent people from talking about their mental health. Breaking down that stigma is one step toward opening dialogue about mental health. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health care and services, there are options for them.

How Apicha CHC can help you

At Apicha CHC, we offer short-term behavioral health services (like therapy), and referrals. Click the image below to request an appointment.

 


Ready to take action about your health?
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