Five Issues Related to Minority Mental Health

In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives recognized the need to bring attention to issues around mental health awareness among, and mental health care for, the nation’s minority communities. To further those issues, the House passed a resolution in support of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (with the open enrollment period beginning on October 1, 2013) should help address one of the issues outlined in the resolution: the fact that many minority mental health consumers are underinsured or uninsured, and thus receive a diagnosis late in their illness, if at all.

But what about the other issues?

Top 5 Issues Related to Minority Mental Health

Here are Care for Your Mind’s top 5 issues related to minority mental health awareness that remain to be addressed. (All quotes are from the text of the resolution.)

    1. Disproportionate access to services:“adult Caucasians who suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder are more likely to receive treatment than adult African Americans with the same disorders even though the disorders occur in both groups at about the same rate, when taking into account socioeconomic factors”

    1. Disparity of quality of services:“although mental illness impacts all people, African Americans experience a much greater unmet need for mental health services and receive a lesser quality of care, thereby resulting in mental health disparities” and “African Americans are misdiagnosed at a higher rate within the mental health delivery system, and greater effort must be made to accurately assess the mental health of African Americans”
    2. Lack of “culturally competent” providers:“communities of color are in need of culturally competent mental health resources and the training of all health care providers to serve multi-ethnic consumers” and “the faith, customs, values, and traditions of a variety of ethnic groups should be taken into consideration when attempting to treat and diagnose mental illnesses.
    3. Persistence of mental health social stigma:“a significant percentage [of African Americans] refuse treatment or view mental health treatment as the ‘treatment of last resort,’ due to the stigma associated with mental illness.
    4. Lack of culturally sensitive advocates:“advocacy for traditional mental health organizations must be encouraged to incorporate and integrate minority mental health education and outreach within their respective portfolios”

Care for Your Mind has plans to cover a number of these issues in upcoming weeks and months, so stay tuned! In the meantime, share your story with us, send us your ideas about topics you’d like to see addressed, and comment below:

Have you seen or experienced progress on any of these five issues?

Which issues should be priorities for policymakers?

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