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National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Minorities in America share the same mental health concerns as the majority

07-11-17 Category: Advocacy, Empowerment, Mental Health

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Minorities in America share the same mental health concerns as the majority

Despite tremendous progress made over the years, instances of racism still continue to impact the mental health of African-Americans in a significant way. Although negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection have decreased considerably over the years, sporadic occurrences resulting in significant adverse consequences continue to be reported nationwide. According to the Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), African-Americans are 10 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Research shows that Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans could be more vulnerable to mental health disorders including drug abuse and dependence when weighed with other ethnic minorities such as Latinos, and possibly even Europeans and African-Americans. Experts feel that this could be attributed to innumerable regional differences as well as how different immigrants are able to integrate into the American society. Moreover, immigration status, economic conditions, education levels, and access to public health benefits are just a few differences that can inversely impact the experiences of various ethnic groups in the U.S.

Additionally, studies also suggest that not only racial minorities but also sexual minorities such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people show higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders than their heterosexual counterparts. Unfortunately, in most of the cases, society’s deep-rooted prejudice towards such stigmatized sexual minorities is the major cause of feelings of rejection, estrangement and harassment in such individuals. As an outcome, many attempt to alleviate emotional or psychological pain with alcohol and drugs, and end up as individuals with the twin plague of addiction and serious mental illnesses. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), around 4.3 percent of adults aged 18 or older identified as the LGBT population was substance abusers, making it even more crucial for the marginalized community to have access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Nevertheless, mental health problems are real and more people experience them than one can imagine. These problems are characterized by abnormalities in thinking patterns, feelings or behaviors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Research on mental health epidemiology shows that mental disorders are common throughout the U.S., affecting tens of millions of people each year, and that, overall, only about half of those affected receive treatment.” Therefore, in the wake of the ongoing mental health problems afflicting ethnic minority groups, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has designated the month of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month with a view to destigmatize mental illness and enhance public awareness of mental illness among affected minority groups across the U.S.

Barriers to seeking professional mental health care services

Though, ethnic minorities share the same mental health concerns as the White majority, they have greater stressors in the guise of discrimination and economic differences. This makes it necessary for the service providers to identify the barriers that prevent the community members from availing culturally competent services.

  • Limited mental care due to racial barriers: The vast majority of African-Americans and Latinos have grown up in a non-supportive environment where poverty, crime, unemployment, scarce educational opportunities, hostilities toward non-white communities and negative media images are intrinsic elements. These, they feel, impact the level of mental care extended to them, making it limited and subjective.
  • Distrust of medical establishment: African-Americans and several Hispanic communities often attribute their distrust of the medical establishment to racist attitudes.
  • Therapist need to be aware of minorities’ cultural ethos: It is important for the therapists to relate to the prejudices arising from ethnic and racial stereotypes. Therefore, they need to be trained to understand the populations they serve.
  • Lack of diversity: Lack of diversity among those being trained as mental health professionals could also create barriers as culturally diverse and competent care is the key to professional treatment.

Notwithstanding, misunderstanding, misinformation and stigma, reinforced through the dictates of traditional societies, religious beliefs and discriminatory practices are often the major barriers in seeking mental health treatment. The need of the hour is to develop a greater sensitivity and nonjudgmental approach which will encourage community members to come out and seek regular professional help. Additionally, the government should make efforts to identify barriers to service utilization such as understanding health matters, communication between the health care providers and patients, and the impact of insurance coverage on engagement and rehabilitation.

Customized treatment for mental health can help

Mental health issues can affect everyone alike irrespective of the age, gender or race. Yet it’s strange and sad that it is still a taboo in today’s society. What is astounding is the fact that the media, which is keen to raise awareness of every possible illness, seems to take a back seat when it comes to mental health. Talking about the mind should be just as easy as talking about anything else so that it does not snowball into larger issues later on.

Sovereign Health offers a variety of customized treatment programs at our mental health rehabilitation centers to treat a person holistically. In addition to individual and group psychotherapy, the patient can opt for alternative therapeutic activities such as yoga, equine therapy, art therapy, mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques to regain control over his or her life.

If you or your loved one is battling any mental health issue as well as any underlying health condition, get in touch with Sovereign Health to gain access to the latest and innovative treatment methods at our state-of-the-art mental health treatment centers spread across the U.S. You can either call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representatives who would be happy to solve all your queries on mental health problems.

We accept Most Private Insurance, reach out to us so we can help!

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