ABH Maryland

Big Barriers to Mental Health Access in the BIPOC Community


Big Barriers to Mental Health Access in the BIPOC Community

  • Mental Health

If you or someone you love has suffered from mental health struggles, then you know getting the help you need to feel better requires time, research, and accessibility. Finding the best practitioner to help you with your specific challenges is often a trying process. Shopping around for the best fit can be depleting, especially if you’re unmotivated. All this to say, getting help is not always straightforward, albeit necessary. If you are a member of the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) community, it’s often even more difficult.

Recent research shows that some communities being the most negatively affected by the pandemic are statistically the least likely to receive quality mental health care, which is a huge problem, especially in the U.S. According to Mental Health America, 17% of black people and 23% of Native Americans live with a mental health illness. Research also shows that BIPOC groups are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to seek out treatment (possibly because of the history of being treated poorly by the medical community at large), more likely to receive low or poor quality of care, and more likely to leave treatment early.

4 Common Barriers Members of the BIPOC Community Face with Mental Health Access

  • Racism & Discrimination. Racism and discrimination weave into the fabric of American society and people in the BIPOC community can face challenges when seeking necessary care. Some groups are more likely to face risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing a mental health condition. Examples include homelessness, domestic abuse, and exposure to violence. Research shows that Black Americans are 20% more likely to suffer from severe mental health issues than other communities.
  • Stigma Against Getting Help for Mental Health Issues. While talking about mental health issues has become more mainstream, as a country, we still have a long way to go, especially for those in minority populations. Because of the traumatic history of our country, many members of the BIPOC community have adopted a resiliency mindset. Still, this thinking can keep them from sharing their struggles and seeking help.
  • Limited Access to Good Health Care. Many people in the BIPOC community don’t have health insurance or access to funds to put solely toward mental wellness, and therefore struggle to find good care. The American Psychiatric Association states that one-third of Black American adults who need mental health care receive it even though they are more likely to deal with emotional distress than White Americans.
  • Providers Don’t Look Like or Always Understand the Communities They Serve. Diversity and inclusivity are paramount in better serving the BIPOC community. However, the vast majority of mental health service providers are white. Providers who are not a part of the BIPOC community, which is the majority of providers, can often underestimate the harsh effects that racism and discrimination can have on the mental wellness of a person in the BIPOC community.

How BIPOC Can Overcome These Barriers

The solution to overcoming these barriers isn’t easy. But with more education and empathy, our country can move in a better, healthier direction for the BIPOC community and what they are facing. A few ways we can do this are:

  1. Have more representation of BIPOC in the mental health services professional world and fight for more incentives for the BIPOC community to get degrees in this area.
  2. Require mental health professionals to have cultural competency training, equipping them to understand the unique problems the BIPOC community faces.
  3. Steer the conversation toward mental wellness and help educate people that everyone has mental health, whether good or poor mental health. It’s important to normalize what mental wellness can look like so people know it’s possible; recovery is possible.
  4. Spread awareness of the barriers BIPOC communities face.
  5. Vote for candidates fighting for affordable healthcare, especially for marginalized communities.

Contact Us Today 

Advanced Behavioral Health is working hard to create safe spaces for everyone, especially those in the BIPOC community.

If you or a loved one are looking for mental health services, we invite you to explore our offerings and reach out if you have any questions. 

You can call us at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. One of our team members will help you find the care you need.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.