Home » Hispanic and African Americans in the U.S. are at a higher risk for mental health issues

Hispanic and African Americans in the U.S. are at a higher risk for mental health issues

Posted on: July 14th, 2015 in Mental Health, PTSD No Comments


Recent research published in the journal Psychological Trauma found that Hispanic and African American citizens in the U.S. were disproportionately affected by mental health issues and chronic illnesses. This research was conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities and examined to what extent these health disparities occurring within these minority groups.

The first of two studies conducted analyzed common negative experiences among low-income Latinos and African Americans. This first study consisted of 500 low-income Hispanic and African American participants who reported their stress levels and other mental health conditions. These experiences included incidences of childhood violence, poverty, discrimination and trauma.

The research concluded that high rates of scarring, traumatic experiences correlated with more severe psychological symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. The authors noted that many of these psychological issues remain undetected and, thus, do not receive treatment.

The authors of the first study defined five environmental factors which predicted PTSD, depression and anxiety for adults:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Violence in their community
  • Chronic fear of death or being physically hurt
  • Violence in their family or significant other
  • Discrimination due to gender, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation

Gail Wyatt, senior author of the study and psychiatrist at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior said, “Only a small proportion of individuals with psychological distress are identified in health care settings, and a smaller fraction of those ever receive appropriate treatment, especially for the experiences of discrimination.” Wyatt notes that, typically, if those who experience discrimination do not learn how to manage the trauma, the repercussions can be “long-lasting and life-threatening.”

The second study, published in the journal Psychological Assessment, further explored aforementioned influential environmental factors. Researchers developed a new screening tool that is applicable for clinical use called the UCLA Life Adversities Screener (LADS), which helps health care providers offer a more thorough means of treatment for patients dealing with trauma and stress.

Honghu Liu, UCLA professor and author of the first study, commented on LADS, noting the systems overall efficiency: “Given the utility and ease of use, LADS could be effective as a screening tool to identify ethnic and racial minority individuals in primary care settings who have a high trauma burden, and who need more extensive evaluation.” Liu, an expert in designing data analysis, statistical modeling and research studies, added, “We feel it will capture experiences that could be missed with current screening approaches. This could optimize affordable care as it strives to improve prevention of mental health problems.”

Mental health disorders affect roughly one out of four Americans every day, according the National Institute for Mental Health. Hopefully, new screening methods and the implementation of the newly founded LADS screening program will help provide more accurate assessments for these individuals in need.

For those in need of mental health treatment, Sovereign Health Group offers a wide array of inpatient and outpatient programs across the nation. We treat patients who are struggling with mental health disorders, addiction and dual diagnosis conditions. You may reach us via a phone call or through our online chat. Our admissions helpline is open 24/7 and our treatment specialist will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer

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