Though we all require the same things to be mentally healthy, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t always sufficient. Those in ethnically diverse communities have different types of needs that aren’t always easy to meet. Many people of color are less likely to access and receive quality mental health care. Furthermore, treatment services are typical of lower quality. This creates a mental health gap that leads to higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Bringing awareness to this gap and finding solutions is what Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is all about.
Why the Gap?
While people of all races struggle to find the help they need, diverse communities have bigger challenges to face. Socioeconomic differences play a role in receiving adequate care. Some individuals are afraid to face discrimination, as one’s race plus a mental health condition can make one uneasy in asking for help.
The numbers don’t lie. Statistics show that black Americans are likelier to suffer from psychological problems than Caucasians. Elderly Asian-American women commit suicide more than anyone over the age of 65. Those with disabilities are 3 times likelier to commit suicide than those without them. Anyone in poverty is also more likely to experience trauma and less likely to seek or receive quality mental health treatment.
Other minorities struggle with language barriers or have different cultural norms that make finding a qualified therapist more challenging. Recent immigrants may be facing a range of complex issues that are difficult for someone native-born to understand.
A commission on mental health disparities came to these same findings. The study claimed, “The mental health system has not kept pace with the diverse needs of racial and ethnic minorities, often underserving or inappropriately serving them. Specifically, the system has neglected to incorporate respect or understanding of the histories, traditions, beliefs, languages, and value systems of culturally diverse groups.”
Solutions for Disparities in Mental Health Care
Some states have developed new approaches to the treatment and support of culturally diverse communities. Leaders from five different groups have generated a set of resources to bring awareness to the disparities and change existing approaches, with the overarching goal of improving mental health services.
Culturally competent care that includes better training for mental health professionals is another option. Many specialists are not equipped with the type of information they need to provide the services required. Schools, companies, and organizations provide some training to help equip professionals with better skills and a higher level of expertise. The Office of Behavioral Health Equity has been created to provide quality care for culturally diverse communities. With greater awareness and better training,
What Can You Do?
Thankfully, there are some basic measures you can put in place today to help spread awareness and honor Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Here are 5 steps to take right now –
Raise awareness on social media – Share blogs, infographics, and inspiring stories
Share resources – Follow this link for a list of specific resources to help different communities access mental health care.
Wear a lime green ribbon – The ribbon reminds people what this month is all about.
Inspire – Inspire positive dialogue about mental
Host – Create an event to promote mental health awareness in your community. Here are some potential events you could attend.