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.
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:
- 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.
- Require mental health professionals to have cultural competency training, equipping them to understand the unique problems the BIPOC community faces.
- 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.
- Spread awareness of the barriers BIPOC communities face.
- 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.