Why Black And African American Community Face Mental Health Discrimination?

Millions of Americans endure and live with mental health issues irrespective of color, race, and gender or identify. It has been observed that the minority communities of America such as the Native Americans, Latino/Hispanic, African Americans, Asian American and Pacific Islanders often face huge amount of mental health discrimination due to societal stigma and challenges in accessing mental health services. To alleviate mental health related challenges in the minority communities and encourage them to transpire out of stigmas, July is celebrated as National minority mental health awareness month. It was initiated in 2008 and was recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

Speaking of Black or African American community they have made boundless contribution towards fighting against racial, social and economic disparity but all efforts will go in vain without achieving mental health equality. Several studies have evinced that majority of the black community are still grappling with depression and anxiety. They either don’t have access to treatment or they just don’t seek treatment due to stigmatization, prejudice or racism prevalent in society. Mental health issues exacerbate in the black community due to economic insecurity, criminal injustice, violence, health insecurity and racism.

Studies suggest that out of 37 million people of the black community, nearly 25% develop generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive episodes. There is also evidence that black community population aged between 18-25 years are less likely to seek treatment as compared to white Americans and older Africans.

These staggering statistics reveal the fact that despite  mammoth efforts to reduce discrimination on social, economical and racial grounds, inequality is still rampant in the US.

There is evidence of abuse of the black community while providing them health facilities and medical treatment such as limited access to adequate insurance, financial woes,  and other medical negligence. As a result they lack trust in the medical system of the country. This is a primary reason behind black community not seeking mental health treatment.

Black community comprises of 12% of the United States’ population, but they are considered as high-risk population because of stigmatization such as:

  • 50% of the black community is considered to be a prison population.
  • 40% of the black community faces challenges of homelessness.
  • 45% children of the black community stay in foster home.

These statistics clearly indicate their socio-economic drawback in the United States. These adverse conditions have contributed towards a growing mental health issues in the black community.

In the past, the black community had been subjugated and there is a history of oppression, slavery, apartheid, racism and colonialism shoving them to trauma and poor mental health. There are many studies that suggest mental illness can trigger physical illness and history of psychological illness can be passed on to offspring.

What are the stigmas associated with the black community?

Among the black population, acceptance of psychological problems is very low. The only coping skill they adopt is to follow religious healing such as prayers and pastoral guidance. We need to break the stigma and recognize mental health issues as any other physical diseases. Moreover, in the black community mental illness is always counted as a sign of personal weakness. Perhaps this is also a prime reason that stops the black community from seeking treatment. Those suffering from mental health issues among them fear isolation, rejection and being judged by society, family and friends. Hence, to break this negative mindset adequate information or awareness is required to be disseminated in their community. Research suggests that cultural mistrust, lack of cultural responsiveness and negative approach from therapists have also made the black community skeptical when it comes to seeking mental health treatment.

How to encourage the black community to seek mental health treatment?

Mental Health providers and psychotherapists need to adopt a culturally sensitive attitude to solve mental health inequalities among the black community. Culture, belief and religion are important aspects of people’s lives, and the medical practitioner needs to understand this aspect to provide adequate treatment to people from the black community.

Most people often feel nervous or guilty about asking these difficult questions, but providers usually expect and accept these questions because they can help them better understand the patient and what is important to them.

How We Can Help?

If you or your loved one is dealing with a mental health disorder, don’t keep it to yourself. In the national minority awareness month, Medical Concierge will provide you with all the support you require. Call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 to know more about our treatment plans.

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