July 1, 2021

Breaking Down Barriers to Mental Health Care Access

In the United States, one in five people experiences a mental health condition, regardless of race. But minorities experience a very different level of access to and quality of mental health care.

Historically, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities have faced challenges in seeking and receiving mental health services due to systemic barriers. According to Counseling.org, 60 percent of Whites received care for depression, while only 36 percent of Hispanics used mental health services for the same issue. Only 8.6 percent of Asian Americans accessed mental health services compared to 18 percent of the rest of the population. And compared to White Americans, Blacks and Hispanics used only half of the mental health services and resources available to the public. Native Americans are also three times less likely to have health insurance than the White population and, therefore, don’t have access to quality mental health programs. In 2018, 58 percent of Black and African American young adults 18-25 and 50 percent of adults 26-49 with serious mental illness did not receive treatment.

For minorities, the road to mental health services and treatment is often blocked by lack of insurance coverage, language barriers, cultural differences and logistical hurdles. Statistically, minorities experience more socioeconomic status, educational and spatial disparities compared to the White population. These gaps have led to limited access to learning resources and employment opportunities as well as financial restraints.

While many mental health programs advertise as supportive, in practice, they may fail to practice genuine inclusivity and diversity. Many individuals also fear facing double the discrimination; first, for their race and then again for their mental health condition. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health services, the condition is often approached with caution – particularly with certain cultures. Those seeking help may prefer to consult with a professional who speaks their language and relates to their cultural values.

Supporting Minority Mental Health Month

July is Minority Mental Health Month, a nationwide effort to create awareness of the mental health experiences with minority communities.

Improving minority mental health programs is an ongoing battle because of the systemic barriers facing BIPOC communities. Unfortunately, progress in eliminating disparities is slow. We still see how structural racism disproportionately segregates communities of color from accessing opportunities that help them secure quality education, housing, jobs and health care.

You can support minority mental health by helping create awareness of racial inequities. Educate yourself on different cultures and how inequalities impact their access to mental health resources and treatment programs. Take the time to learn about cultural differences by respectfully asking questions. Share resources with your community. Inspire positive conversations about inclusivity, diversity and access to mental health programs.

At Communicare, we take steps to build a culture of inclusion and promote access to mental health services for all. We actively seek training opportunities to improve staff cultural and linguistic competence, connect clients with translation services to alleviate any language barriers that could impair treatment and seek to employ a diverse workforce that represents the communities we serve. We openly acknowledge that cultural and linguistic competence is a journey and are always open to feedback or suggestions that improve our quality of service.

Join Communicare on our mission to promote access to quality mental health care for all. Please take a look at our services and don’t hesitate to contact us! You can call our 24-hourCrisis Line to reach our mobile crisis team, who respond to substance use, mental health and IDD crises: 866-837-7521.