“The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored.”
– Daniel H. Gillson; NAMI CEO
Mental health disorders, whether it is depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or schizophrenia, affects one in five adults and one in ten children in the United States. Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of disability; however, approximately two-thirds of individuals with mental health disorders do not seek help. The main reasons for the lack of care are the sizeable social stigma painted across mental health disorders, the skyrocketing costs, lack of insurance, and lack of mental health treatment providers.
Every year, the month of July marks Minority National Mental Health Awareness Month, which strives to raise awareness about mental illness and how minority groups are affected at even greater lengths. Minority groups are less likely to receive a diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services, and often receive a more inferior quality of mental health care.
African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience mental health issues than the rest of the population.
Native Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have the highest suicide rates of any ethnic group, and 40 percent of the individuals who die by suicide are between 15 and 24 years old.
40 percent of white American adults seek treatment regular for their mental health, but only about 25 percent of African American adults do the same.
Culturally adaptive treatment
Another issue affecting minority mental health in the United States is the lack of knowledge or empathy towards that specific culture. Each culture around the world is vastly different, and therefore emotional responses and views regarding mental health can differ between individuals from different countries and cultures. Studies have shown that culturally adapted mental health treatments are more effective for racial and ethnic minority groups than traditional psychotherapy. For example, culturally adapted treatments for depression appear effective in symptom reduction, and ethnic minority individuals may be more likely to seek and stay in treatment if they consider the issues discussed in therapy relevant to their culture. However, despite these advances, mental health treatment disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups still exist.
Stigma across all communities
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. Studies show that there are fewer Latino and black practitioners than white practitioners in the mental health realm. Many cultures, including the Latino community, the Native American community, and individuals of Asian descent, consider it “weak” to seek mental health disorders. Therefore, these communities have a significant stigma associated with mental health.
How you can provide culturally adaptive treatment
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 that individuals in these communities use and getting involved with activist groups to be better informed about the difficulties these minority groups are facing.
- Be inclusive in hiring staff to make your practice more diverse. Check your own unconscious biases. Harvard has a wonderful 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 usually 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.
Seeking treatment at ARC
ARC is a full-service addiction treatment center located in the Los Angeles area that has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. ARC fully supports individuals of all genders, sexual orientations, and ethnicities and takes pride in providing the best tailored care to members of the minority community. The treatment staff at ARC ensures that your detox, treatment, and recovery are tailored to your individual needs. Our goal is to provide individualized treatment in a safe and secure environment in hopes that you can live a happier, healthier, and prosperous future.