Why is it important to create awareness of minority mental health?
Mental health disorders do not discriminate. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges impact people of all ages, races, colors, classes, genders, and identities. So, why is the whole month of July dedicated to minority mental health awareness?
Because of access and cultural stigma. A person’s background, identity, and environment can play a large role in their ability to access necessary, quality treatment and support, so they can heal.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance reports:
- People from racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to receive mental health care.
- Reported rates of depression are lower for blacks (24.6%) and Hispanics (19.6%) than whites (34.7%) but blacks and Hispanics have more persistent depression symptoms.
- Rates of mental illness in African Americans are similar to the general population, but when they seek care they often receive lower quality and lack of access to culturally-competent care.
- Only one in three African Americans who need mental health care receive it.
- LGBTQIA people are twice as likely to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime when compared to heterosexual men and women.
- Many LGBTQIA people experience stigma and discrimination when accessing health care, leading some to delay necessary care or forego it altogether.
- Asian American/Pacific Islanders are least likely to seek mental health services than any other racial/ethnic group.
- Trauma also has an outsized impact on diverse populations. A study reported that 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health treatment were diagnosed with PTSD.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality also reports that people of color are more likely to use emergency departments for mental health care and are less likely to use community mental health services.
What can we do?
There is a lot that can and needs to be done to provide better mental health care and access to minority populations. The first step is awareness. The more aware we are of the issue, the more we can do to create change and encourage others to seek help.
At CW Psychological Services we have decided to offer sliding-scale fee options to assist people from all income levels in getting the care they need. We also partner with a wide variety of insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private insurances. We feel it is our duty to make high-quality care accessible. As a private practice, we value each and every person that walks through our door and have made it our mission to help offset disparities.
Showing Support for Other Cultures
A person’s culture is a combination of their personal values, the norms they are used to, expectations, and identity. Culture can impact perception, actions and interactions, and how we perceive health and mental health. A person’s culture can impact whether they feel comfortable seeking help for symptoms and how they respond to treatment.
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing offers some tips on how we can increase awareness and show support for those of other cultures during minority mental health awareness month and beyond. Here they are:
1.) Learn: There are so many resources out there to learn more about different cultures and how they have responded to and been impacted by mental health.
2.) Be respectful: Practice an attitude of acceptance when talking or listening to someone of a different culture. You can’t possibly know everything a person has been through. Respect their culture, personal values, and experiences, even if you disagree. Be careful to not pass judgment, critique, or trivialize what a person says.
3.) It’s OK to ask questions: If there is something you don’t understand, ask questions. It is better to ask and receive clarification than to make assumptions. Show others you want to understand.
4.) Focus on healing: Everyone struggles. If you or someone you know appears to be struggling, direct them to resources for enhancing their well-being and recovery and to focus on healing.
For a list of resources for mental health support for minority and underrepresented populations, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.
If you or someone you know is struggling and is unsure of where to go or what to do next, we encourage you to call us at CW Psychological Services. Our counselors and associate-level clinicians are passionate about helping others heal and succeed in life.
We can all do our part. There is a path to healing for everyone.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained. We have openings for online, or telehealth, therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call at (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.