Becoming More Inclusive in the Mental Health Community
Every year, the month of July marks National Mental Health Awareness Month and strives to raise awareness about mental illness and how minorities are affected at even greater lengths. Minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services, and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care. Whether it is women, persons of color or persons in the LGBTQ community; many of these minorities feel as though they cannot access treatment because their provider will not be able to relate to them.
Twenty-five percent of African Americans seek treatment for a mental health issue, compared to 40 percent of white individuals. The reasons for this discrepancy include misdiagnosis by doctors, socioeconomic factors, and a lack of African American mental health professionals.
2.3 percent of African American and Hispanic young individuals visited a mental health specialist in a given year, compared with 5.7 percent of white children and young adults.
There was an 89 percent increase in suicide rates among Native American and Alaska Native women from 1999 to 2014. The rate of suicide among Native American and Alaska Native women is approximately nine of every 100,000 people, up from five per every 100,000 people.
8.6 percent of Asian American adults sought mental health treatment in 2010 compared to 18 percent of the general population nationwide who reached out for services in the same year.
Forty percent of Native Americans who die by suicide are between the ages of 15 to 24. Native Americans have the highest rate of young adult suicide of any ethnicity.
Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over age 65 in the United States.
Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 70% higher than for White girls in the same age group, in 2011.
Over 25% of African American youth exposed to violence have proven to be at high risk for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
African Americans are nearly twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Becoming a minority mental health advocate
As a mental health provider, it is possible to educate yourself on your patient population by going to workshops in the community, learning about specific lingo and wording that individuals in these communities use and getting involved with activist groups to be better informed about the difficulties these minorities are facing.
Bring minorities onto your staff to make your practice more diverse.
Check your own unconscious biases. Harvard has an excellent resource at Project Implicit that can help you identify your biases, so you can begin to work on eliminating or mitigating them.
Actively engage with your community and with diverse communities. Make an effort to reach out beyond your comfort zone to engage with populations who may not typically come through your door.
Enroll in community workshops and research organizations such as PFLAG, LGBTQ community centers, and youth groups.
Recognize that race and gender does have a huge role in mental health because these communities are often stigmatized
Educate your staff to foster inclusive behaviors
Address harassment and intolerance of peers immediately and directly