Lack of access and stigma are two of the biggest barriers to receiving behavioral health support. While many struggle with these challenges in seeking treatment, Black, Latino, Asian and other minority communities face them at much higher rates – and often at greater cost.
More than 16% of Black Americans reported having a mental illness in 2019. This population makes up more than seven million people. Black and African Americans also reported increases in rates of major depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts. An analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics in partnership with the Census Bureau from April 23 to December 21, 2020 indicates 41% of Black Americans are struggling with anxiety or depression during the pandemic.
Approximately 34% of Hispanic or Latino adults with mental illness receive treatment each year – 11% lower than the U.S. average. In December 2020, 40% of Hispanic or Latinos nationwide reported experiencing frequent symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Language barriers, legal status and lack of cultural competence are just some of the unique barriers facing these communities.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Asian American youth, ages 12 to 19. Data collected by the CDC showed Asian American females in high school were 20% more likely to attempt suicide than non-Hispanic white students. Additionally, Asian American adults were almost 25% less likely to seek treatment for a major depressive episode than non-Hispanic white adults. Additionally, 27% reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder in December 2020.
Unfortunately, limited access to behavioral health treatment and concerns about stigma prevent many minorities from seeking help. Additional language and cultural barriers add challenges to receiving treatment. It is important for friends, family, caregivers and health care providers develop awareness of health equity among diverse groups so we as a society can help break down barriers to care.
Here are just a few resources to help facilitate a conversation about behavioral health treatment: