Isn’t he just the most beautiful boy? This sweet, innocent face represents the many faces in America that suffer from psychiatric and behavioral disorders that go overlooked as a result of a lack of mental healthcare.
Black History Month always re-surfaces multiple issues of concern. Unfortunately, we rarely hear discussion about mental health among ethnic minorities during this time.
Mental health treatment in ethnic minority sectors is often underutilized and highly stigmatized. Treatment is typically the last resort for cultures who rely heavily on holistic health, alternative and nontraditional healing practices, faith-oriented practices, and Christian counseling. Sadly, for urban residents, the majority of services are found in suburban and rural areas as well as larger cities. Securing transportation or funds to travel, can be a headache for urban families. As a result, various avenues are sought before traditional psychiatric services are even considered.
Many theories support the view that services are out of reach for ethnic minority and lower socio-economic status (SES) families and are either physically or financially unavailable. Other theories highlight issues such as high practice rates and fees, lack of interest, and lack of cultural competence of mental health therapists.
Cultural competence (a sensitivity to a culture or ethnic group and its issues) include an array of skills necessary to empathize with and fully understand the needs of individuals from particular cultures.
While becoming culturally competent is a goal most therapists are striving toward today, this is only half the battle. Many ethnic minority households are uninformed about the services available to them. Therapists, other mental health professionals, and advocates have a moral obligation to educate and inform.
Before we can properly educate however, we need to understand the issues that prevent proper psychiatric care:
For more information on mental health in African American communities, watch “Snapping the chain: Ending mental health stigma in the African American community”
All the best
PEERS Tv. (2011, October, 8). Snapping the chain: Ending mental health stigma in the African American community. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcqtFlLNSa4.
PEERS Tv. (n.d.). PEERS Tv. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/user/peerstv?feature=watch.
photo credit 1: Source unknown
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Last reviewed: 10 Mar 2013