Breaking Down the Racial Divide in Mental Health Care (MLK Jr. Day)

Breaking Down the Racial Divide in Mental Health Care (MLK Jr. Day)

Despite how far this country has come in regards to the racial divide, there is still a significant amount of work needed before we can say that people of all different backgrounds are truly treated equally. The mental health field is no exception to these disparities. Those considered a minority race tend to struggle with inaccessibility to high-quality mental health care, a cultural stigma surrounding mental health and seeking therapy, and discrimination.

Ethnic Minorities Face Subtle Traumas in their Everyday Life

Racism is alive and well in today’s world. Ethnic minorities of all different backgrounds can feel the echoes of racist stereotypes and biases in their everyday lives. Many minorities face:

  • Racial profiling. Whether by the police, store owners, or neighbors, many minorities are forced to face judgment and stereotyping throughout their days.
  • A lack of representation in their school’s curriculum. A lot of today’s teachings in school fail to cover the disparities ethnic minorities have faced throughout history and the contributions ethnic minorities have made to create the society we live in today.
  • Mass incarceration of their community members. Studies have found that black Americans are incarcerated at approximately five times the rate as white Americans and Latinx people are 1.3 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Latinx whites.
  • And so many other challenges that white people do not face.

Facing racism can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Facing traumatic experiences in one’s everyday life will truly begin to take a toll on their mental health. This is precisely why becoming more aware of the biases and disparities in the mental health field that may be preventing ethnic minorities from receiving the care they need is so important.

What the Statistics Say

Ethnic minorities are less likely to seek mental health care than white people. With significant differences in cultural competency, income, health insurance, and overall access to mental health services, getting mental health help can prove to be a challenge to ethnic minorities. Studies have found that:

  • African- Americans are 21 percent less likely than white European- Americans to seek mental health care services
  • Hispanics and Latinos are 25 percent less likely to seek mental health care services than white European- Americans
  • Asian- Americans are 51 percent less likely to seek mental health care services than white European- Americans

Increasing Cultural Sensitivity

One of the most important steps a mental health employee should work toward is obtaining cultural competence Mental health and illness can be viewed in a different way with every different culture and background. The cultural or religious beliefs a person holds will impact and shape their perspective about mental illness. These different attitudes and perspectives on mental illness will deeply impact a person’s willingness to seek help and follow their treatment plans. Presenting mental health care in a culturally sensitive matter will grant access to mental health care to a wider variety of people, helping them get the mental health help they need.

If you are in need of culturally sensitive mental health care, we are here for you. Contact us today.


Keywords: mental health, therapy, therapist