July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was founded in 2008 with the hopes of raising mental health awareness surrounding disparities, barriers to treatment, and stigma in minority communities. In this article I hope to create conversations around the mental health of minority populations as well as provide insight and supported statistical data.
It has been said that by 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group. For the sake of this discussion let’s define “minority groups”. Minority groups are any groups of people who do not identify as “non-Hispanic white” alone, in relation to race/ethnicity; and, Christianity (in America) in terms of religious beliefs. We will be discussing mental health as it relates to Muslims, Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives.
It is important to note, the limited cultural understanding by health care providers may contribute to misdiagnosed or under diagnosed mental illness of those belonging to minority groups. Factors of this may include stigma, language differences between the provider and the patient, and cultural presentation of symptoms.
Unfortunately, data on community prevalence of mental health diagnoses among Muslims is scant; however, there is data available on prevalence among people seeking treatment.
US born Muslim Americans are more likely than foreign-born Muslim Americans to experience racial, gender, and religious discrimination and nearly one-third of Muslim American perceived discrimination in health care settings. Being ignored or excluded was the most conveyed type of discrimination. Religious discrimination against Muslims has been associated with anxiety, depression, alcohol use, as well as sub-clinical paranoia.
American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN)
Research indicates that AI/AN populations have higher rates of mental health concerns than the rest of the US population. Substance use disorders, PTSD, attachment disorders and suicide in the AI/AN community is reportedly linked to the intergenerational historical trauma forced upon them.
Traditional healing practices are important in treatment of AI/AN communities. Traditional healing practices focus on balancing the mind, body, and spirit through a connection with a place and land. Those who meet criteria for depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders are more likely to seek help from spiritual healers opposed to traditional mental health practitioners.
Approximately 1 in 10 Latinos with a mental health disorder use mental health services from a general health provider, while only 1 in 20 receive such services from a mental health specialist.
It has been reported that older Latino adults are especially vulnerable to psychological stresses associated with immigration and acculturation. Some barriers to mental health treatment for Latino Americans include lack of insurance; stigma surrounding mental illness; language barriers as there is a shortage of bilingual mental health professionals; and a lack of cultural tailored services for the Latino population.
Rates of mental illness in the African American community are like the general population; however, the disparities lie in mental health services. African Americans receive poorer quality of care and they lack access to culturally sensitive and competent care. The latest research shows that 1 in 3 African Americans who need mental health care receive it. When compared to the general population African Americans are less likely to receive guideline-consistent care; they are less frequently included in mental health research; and they are more likely to use emergency rooms or primary care opposed to mental health specialist when exhibiting symptoms of mental illness.
How Does Premier Counseling Ensure Cultural Sensitivity and Competence in Treatment?
The psychotherapist on the Premier Team are all licensed clinical social workers in South Carolina. The benefit of receiving mental health services from a clinical social worker is that social workers must function in accordance with the values, ethics, and standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics which outlines cultural competence. Cultural Competence requires self-awareness, cultural humility, and the commitment to understanding and embracing culture as central to effective practice.
Our organization is committed to abiding by the NASW Code of Ethics and providing quality mental health services to those in need. If we can assist you, your loved one, or your community based group we welcome your call!
Disclaimer: The statistical data shared in this article was not conducted by Premier Counseling, LLC; however, Premier Counseling is happy to discuss the articles in which the data was found with you.