July is designated Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to spread awareness about the importance of mental health, the need to provide minorities with more access to mental health care and the need to seek help when required.
Barriers of Mental Health Care for Minorities
Various studies have been conducted to understand the prevalence of mental illnesses in minority groups living in America and the care available to these groups. Research shows a few common causes are conditions like poverty, homelessness and violence.
Culture plays an important role in a person’s outlook on mental health and its treatment. A lot of stigmas are attached to mental health issues, especially among minorities. In some cultures, being diagnosed with a mental issue is considered a taboo, and this prevents the individual from even discussing symptoms with family or friends, let alone seek medical help.
In addition to the reluctance of seeking help, the lack of access to mental health services may be a factor that stops minorities from approaching care providers. Language is another major barrier as few mental health providers are bi- or multi-lingual to communicate with minority groups.
Mental Health Problems in Minorities
Some studies have shown that African Americans may stand a higher chance of experiencing severe forms of mental ailments like depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when compared to their white counterparts and other minorities.
Studies also show that per capita income is often lowest among Hispanic-Americans, and they may be the group with the lowest number of medically insured individuals, reducing their access to the required care.
Other alarming factors were found in various minority groups, according to the Mental Health America (MHA):
- About 57 percent of Asian-Americans tested as moderately or severely depressed but showed the least history of being diagnosed.
- African-Americans, more than other groups, said they would consider talking to a healthcare provider.
- African-American adults living in poverty may be up to three times more likely to show psychological distress than those above the poverty line.
- The rate of suicide-related deaths is 30 percent higher among Asian-American females aged 15-24 in comparison to their white peers.
- Hispanics said that they would like more information on where to go to gather information on mental health.
- Native-Americans scored the highest possibility of showing symptoms of severe depression and also showed 1.5 times more chances of experiencing serious psychological distress including conditions like PTSD.
- Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) individuals are three times more likely to experience mental health conditions and show a higher risk of suicide.
Many minority groups rely on spirituality, family and the community in times of need, and while these can support an individual’s mental health, proper medical care is imperative in most cases. Research shows that mental illnesses are just as prevalent in minority groups as they are in the general population, and it becomes essential to take measures to make mental health care and information about it more accessible to the nation’s minorities.
NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/African-American-Mental-Health
Minority Mental Health. (2018, June 27). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/minority-mental-health
Minority Mental Health Month 2017: #NotACharacterFlaw. (2018, June 11). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/minority-mental-health-month-2017-notacharacterflaw
Black & African American Communities and Mental Health. (2017, April 03). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/african-american-mental-health
Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health. (2016, June 30). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/asian-americanpacific-islander-communities-and-mental-health