Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. However, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. Ongoing stigma and lack of access to care act as barriers for anyone with a mental health condition, but experts argue there’s a particular disparity when it comes to minorities, which can contribute to individuals not receiving proper support or treatment in order to feel better.

Data from the US Department of Health and Human Services reports:

  • In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Blacks or African Americans, ages 15 to 24.1
  • Black or African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress.
  • In 2018, Asians were 60% less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
  • The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate for Hispanic women, in 2018.
  • In 2018, Hispanics were 50% less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008 to start changing the discrepancies in these statistics. Taking on the challenges of mental health conditions, health coverage and the stigma associated with mental illness requires support and awareness from health professionals and the general public. In many communities, these problems are increased by less access to care, cultural stigma and decreased quality of care. For example, many people of color feel more comfortable receiving treatment from a therapist or physician of color and studies have show that there are less Latino and Black practitioners compared to White practitioners in the mental health realm. Many cultures including the Hispanic community, the Native American Indian community and individuals from Asian decent consider it “weak” to seek help for a mental illness. Therefore, these communities have a great stigma associated with mental health. In 2018, National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is promoting the theme “Cure Stigma” throughout all awareness months and awareness events, including Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, contact us at Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program today.

More from Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program: