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How to Overcome Health Disparities as a Minority


How to Overcome Health Disparities as a Minority

  • Mental Health

There’s simply no doubt about it—minority health disparities resulting from structural racism and discrimination exist in the American healthcare system, and minority members feel the effects every day.

Research shows that discrimination against minorities persists in systems because people naturally empathize more with individuals of their own race. One report concludes that the disparities will continue until our leaders can “build the needed empathy and political will to eradicate” this discrimination.

And the disparities are wide. 

Consider this. Regardless of socioeconomic status or education level, in comparison to a white woman, a minority woman is: 

  • 22% more likely to die from heart disease.
  • 71% more likely to die from cervical cancer.
  • 243% more likely to die from pregnancy/childbirth-related complications.

But it is not a hopeless situation. There are many steps individuals can take to overcome these health disparities for themselves.

Strategies to Help Minority Groups

The same study suggests five policy strategies to overcome health disparities in minority populations. They are to:

  • Ensure equal access to medical care for all people.
  • Prioritize primary care over specialty care.
  • Increase access to high-quality healthcare for all.
  • Advocate for a more diverse healthcare workforce.
  • Address the social needs of patients in addition to their health needs.

The good news is that there is a movement to overcome minority health disparities using these strategies, and there are ways for individuals to follow these guidelines and circumvent the normal channels that create interference for minorities. 

Anyone can learn from these proactive measures that help minorities overcome healthcare disadvantages. Let’s look at how you can take decisions about your health into your own hands and apply them to the two most common forms of cancer in this country.

Practical Ways to Overcome Health Disparities

Breast cancer:

  • The Disparity: While breast cancer deaths are falling across the board, it is still the most common cancer in women, and research shows minorities suffer disproportionally. Notably, Black women had a 41% higher mortality rate than white women.
  • Overcoming the Disparity: Increases in education and availability of breast cancer screening have improved high-risk populations. Anyone can educate themselves and their loved ones about the early detection of breast cancer and do their part to benefit the general health of their community.

Colorectal cancer:

  • The Disparity: Colorectal cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in the United States, and it takes an outsized toll on the African American community. Black Americans suffer from this form of cancer 20% more frequently than any other ethnic or minority group, and their mortality rate is 40% higher. The death of movie star Chadwick Boseman, who was only 43 when he succumbed to colorectal cancer in 2020, raised awareness for this devastating cancer.

Minorities lack access to the preventative care needed to stop colorectal cancer in its early stages. Also, research shows that they were particularly concerned with the process of traditional colonoscopies. Concerned that they were too invasive or inconvenient, they often delayed or avoided this crucial step in preventing colon cancer.

  • Overcoming the Disparity: Many more patients of color can be screened for colorectal cancer through a home colon cancer screen known as a FIT (fecal immunochemical test). Individuals can request a FIT independently, or healthcare providers can strategically target patients to screen for cancer. This non-invasive, private method has shown that it can close the gap in health disparities and is something anyone can do for themselves. 

Contact Us

At Advanced Behavioral Health, we understand that a person’s well-being is a combination of physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Our compassionate therapists understand the nature of biases in the healthcare system and work with our patients to provide quality care for all.

If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health needs, please reach out to our team of qualified mental health specialists.

You can call us at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. One of our team members will be standing by to help you find the confidential consultation 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.