Why National Minority Mental Health Month Matters

Apicha Community Health Center Jul 16, 2018  

Apicha CHC

July is National Minority Mental Health Month. Mental health is one of the most important aspects of an person’s health, but is often ignored or overlooked. Neglecting mental health can have serious consequences, and take a toll on someone’s overall health. And according to research, mental health issues and lack of treatment is a problem within minority groups.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health

What is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008 to improve access to mental health treatment and services through public awareness. Despite advances in health equity, disparities in mental health care continue.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reported that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are:

  • Less likely to have access to mental health services
  • Less likely to use community mental health services
  • More likely to use emergency departments
  • More likely to receive lower quality care.

Minorities are also less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care. Poor mental health care access and quality contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • Over 70% of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition.
  • Almost 5% of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino.
  • Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups.
  • In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide.
  • In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.

Further statistics among different minority groups also show that mental health is a serious concern.

African Americans and Mental Health:
  • Poverty level affects mental health status. African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are 3 times more likely to report psychological distress.
  • African Americans are 10% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic whites.
  • The death rate from suicide for African American men was more than four times greater than for African American women, in 2014.
  • However, the suicide rate for African Americans is 70% lower than that of the non-Hispanic white population.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 - 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233%, as compared to 120% of non-Hispanic whites.
Asian Americans and Mental Health:
  • Suicide was the 9th leading cause of death for Asian Americans, and the 10th leading cause of death for White Americans, in 2014.
  • Southeast Asian refugees are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with trauma experienced before and after immigration to the U.S. One study found that 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health care were diagnosed with PTSD.
  • For Asian Americans, the rate of serious psychological distress increases with lower levels of income, as it does in most other ethnic populations.
  • The overall suicide rate for Asian Americans is half that of the White population.
American Indians/Native Americans and Mental Health:
  • In 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death for America Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34.
  • In 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Native girls between the ages of 10 and 14.
  • American Indian/Alaska Natives are 50% more likely to experience feelings of nervousness or restlessness as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • While the overall death rate from suicide for American Indian/Alaska Natives is comparable to the White population, adolescent American Indian/Alaska Native females have death rates at almost four times the rate for White females in the same age groups.
Latinos/Hispanics and Mental Health:
  • Poverty level affects mental health status. Hispanics living below the poverty level, as compared to Hispanics over twice the poverty level, are over twice as likely to report psychological distress.
  • The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate for Hispanic women, in 2014.
  • However, the suicide rate for Hispanics is half that of the non-Hispanic white population.
  • Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 50% higher than for White girls in the same age group, in 2015.
  • Non-Hispanic whites received mental health treatment 2 times more often than Hispanics, in 2014.
What Should we do About it?

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 improving If you or someone you know is in need of mental health care and services, there are options for them. At Apicha CHC, we offer short-term behavioral health services (like therapy), and referrals. Click the image below to request an appointment.

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