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Minority Mental Health Struggles, Happy woman

Minority Mental Health Struggles

Mental health affects all races equally, which makes the increased rates of minority health struggles frustrating and perplexing. The unsettling facts point to treatment barriers disproportionately faced by minorities versus whites.

An APA fact sheet published last year lists the following daunting statistics:

  • In 2015, among adults with any mental illness, 48 percent of whites received mental health services, compared with 31 percent of blacks and Hispanics and 22 percent of Asians.
  • Compared with non-Hispanic whites, African-Americans with any mental illness have lower rates of any mental health service use, including prescription medications and outpatient services, but higher use of inpatient services at hospitals.
  • Compared with whites, African-Americans are less likely to receive guideline-consistent care, less frequently included in research and are likely to use emergency rooms or primary care rather than mental health specialists.
  • People who identify as being two or more races (24.9 percent) are more likely to report any mental illness within the past year than any other race/ethnic group, followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (22.7 percent), white (19 percent) and black (16.8 percent).
  • American Indians/Alaskan Natives report higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol dependence than any other ethnic/racial group.

Amongst minorities, stigma plays a big part. Especially when culturally, it is less common to seek help. Even when one does seek help, it can be misdiagnosed or missed all together since some minority groups express emotional distress differently. Plus, a lack of diverse providers and language barriers also create issues in serving minority patients. These are just some of the barriers faced with more outlined in the graphic below with each minority group facing different barriers at different rates.

Barriers to mental health care, infographic

Infographic courtesy of USC Department of Nursing

This complex issue leaves you wondering, what can be done?

A significant movement, especially amongst prominent public figures is to help break down the stigma by showing how everyday mental health struggles are and normalizing seeking help. As this continues, the culture surrounding mental health will hopefully become more accepting and open.

Awareness and Education are a big part of normalizing seeking mental health services as well. Many schools are teaching students about mental health. In fact, in the Hamilton Southeastern School District in Fishers, Indiana on “the first day of school everyone was taught what mindfulness was and how and when to use it. They were taught how to create anchoring breathing patterns, what mindful listening and mindful thinking meant and how to recognize emotions like empathy.” – students also take a “mindful sit.” to start each day.

A third strategy is to more tightly integrate mental and behavioral health with primary care. Many times, the only healthcare provider a patient sees on a somewhat regular basis is their primary care doctor. If these physicians were better equipt to screen for mental health struggles, more patients can be helped and earlier on.

Choices Psychotherapy is a judgment-free zone. If you or a loved one are struggling, we are here to help. Contact us now or by calling 952.544.6806.

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About Choices Psychotherapy

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