Race and Mental Health Treatment
By: Isabelle Siegel
Research demonstrates that individuals from racial and ethnic minorities are significantly less likely to receive treatment for mental health issues than White individuals. In 2015, nearly half (48%) of White individuals with mental illnesses received professional help while significantly smaller percentages of minority individuals—31% of Black individuals, 31% of Hispanic individuals, and 22% of Asian individuals—with mental illnesses received professional help. This begs the question: Why are people from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds less likely to receive mental health treatment?
Financial Barriers. A report conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that the primary reason that people from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to receive mental health treatment is due to the cost of services and/or lack of insurance coverage. People from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds are disproportionately likely to experience poverty and, as a result, to have difficulty accessing healthcare services.
Stigma. Research suggests that mental illness stigma is more acute among certain racial and ethnic groups. For example, studies suggest that feelings of stigma are greater among Asian and Hispanic individuals as compared to among White individuals. This, in turn, renders Asian and Hispanic individuals less likely to seek out mental health treatment when in need.
Lack of Culturally Competent Therapists. The majority of therapists are White and may not directly understand the experiences of people from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. Becoming a culturally competent therapist requires education and effort that unfortunately does not always take place. In fact, 56% of mental healthcare providers report having no formal cultural competency training.
Language Barriers. Many therapists speak only English, which poses yet another barrier for racial and ethnic minority individuals who wish to seek mental health treatment. As a result, it can be difficult for non-English speaking individuals to receive proper mental healthcare.
It is imperative that we work to increase the accessibility to mental health treatment for all individuals. Regardless of race and/or ethnic background, socioeconomic status, and other demographic factors, all individuals have the potential to benefit from therapy and other forms of treatment.
If you or a loved one needs support, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/
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