No. 1 Mental Health Illness Affecting Minorities Disproportionately
According to Mental Health America, 19.86 percent of adults in the U.S. are experiencing a mental health issue, accounting for nearly 50million Americans. Over 11.4 million adults have been estimated to have serious suicidal thoughts, and more than 56 percent of adults with a mental illness have received no treatment. These numbers paint a shocking picture of the severity of the nation’s mental health. What these numbers do not show are the mental health disparities in diverse populations.
Historically, racial minority groups, such as Black Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, American Indians, and Native Hawaiians, suffer more from mental health than their White counterparts. The inequalities in mental health states also have been recognized between the majority and gender and sexuality minorities.
Most Common Mental Health Illness Amongst Minorities
Suicide has been identified as a leading cause of death for minority populations. The leading factor that drives a person to take their own life is mental illness, specifically severe depression. Due to many socioeconomic factors, minority groups are at the highest risk of depression.
Black or African Americans
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Blacks or African Americans. In the U.K., the Mental Health Foundation states that Black men are more likely to experience a psychotic disorder than their White counterparts.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, with the death rate for men being four times the rate for women. Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls between 14 and 18 are 30 percent higher than for Whites of the same age group. However, Hispanics are 50 percent less likely to receive mental health treatment as compared to Whites.
American Indians/Alaska Natives
Similar to the Black or African American population, suicide also is the second leading cause of death for American Indians/Alaska Natives. The overall death rate from suicide is approximately 20percent higher than the White population. American Indians/Alaska Natives also are60 percent more likely to experience mild depression or feel that everything is harder to do.
Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders
For Asian Americans, suicide is the leading cause of death. The population also is 60 percent less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to Whites.
Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians
Suicide also is a leading cause of death for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. Compared to Whites, the minority population is three times less likely to receive mental health services and prescription medication for mental health illnesses.
The Root of the Problem
Mental health disparities within diverse populations are due to multiple factors, including limited access to quality mental health care services, lack of mental health awareness, discrimination, and social and cultural stigmas surrounding mental illness. Poverty levels also affect mental health statuses significantly and cause psychological distress. The reality is that many minorities in the U.S. live below the poverty level.
At Communicare, we recognize that the minority population is at the highest risk of mental health issues that go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or underdiagnosed. We strive to close these gaps in care and will play our part in addressing the issue of disparities in mental health status and mental health care.