The National Institute of Minority and Mental Health Disparities[NIMHD] co-hosted a Twitter chat in observance of Minority Mental Health Month with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[SAMHSA] on July 12.
The #MinorityMH chat addressed the mental health of adults in minority groups at the community level and reached health organizations, researchers, federal agencies, mental health professionals, community health workers, and other members of the public health community.
Here are some discussed points and shared resources:
Factors Affecting Minority Mental Health
- Stigma and fear associated with mental health contribute to a lack of understanding about illness, undiagnosed conditions, and treatment prevention in communities.
- The limited number of culturally competent caregivers and resources, treatment discrimination, and structural inequalities lead to distrust, misdiagnosis, and not seeking care.
- Socioeconomic factors hindering care include poor quality of care, inadequate health centers, finances and transportation for care, and limited Internet access.
- Psychological distress caused by racial discrimination, poverty, environment, and other social determinants of health contribute to higher prevalence rates of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, depression, suicide, and substance abuse in minority communities.
- There’s a need to change the narrative and encourage more minorities to talk about depression and seek care, particularly for elders, youth of color, African American and Latino males, and LGBT individuals.
Practices for Addressing Minority Mental Health in Communities
- Various organizations are working to educate community members, teach care providers, and support research that helps us better understand factors affecting minority mental health.
- Forming community-level help groups and forums, actively reaching out to minorities, considering faith-based partners, having culturally competent and diverse staff, serving as role models, and good screening at all levels of care are some methods for addressing the issue.
- Community organizations are researching better solutions for specific groups and illness, examining race-based differential treatment, creating training programs for health professionals, and ensuring that community centers have multilingual resources to contribute to improve mental health services.
The takeaway here is to educate, inform, educate and inform. Next, communities that have been and remain underserved and underrepresented in availing themselves to mental health service providers, need access to licensed and qualified agencies with culturally responsive professionals in their area. Medical offices should be a referral source, and staff should be mindful of key indicators of mental health conditions when patients come in for routine doctor’s visits. Schools should be equally as mindful when it concerns students in attendance. Health fairs, held at school and in the community should have a forum for such information dissemination, and have readily available resources to make referrals.
The stigma attached to mental health can only be removed with education and outreach to minority populations. They tend to be the groups whose cultural beliefs have perpetuated and attached negative stigma to those who seek mental health counseling or individuals with mental health diagnoses. That must be countered by plainly talking about mental health, and bringing it out into the open. Make it a part of normal conversations and eliminate the shame.
There is no shame in seeking help! Reach out and spread the word; make it ok and learn to manage life with a mental health diagnosis. Teach families to cope, manage and support their relatives who have been diagnosed. Teach them to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, so they know when to seek professional advice-consultation, treatment. Don’t let a family member feel they are alone. Don’t let children feel they are bad people, either. Nobody, ADULT OR CHILD, should go through it alone–without professional help AND unconditional love AND familial support!
Culturally Tailored Mental Health Resources for Minorities
- Advancing Health Equity at Every Point of Contact (HHS OMH)
- Minority Population Profiles (HHS OMH)
- Behavioral Health Equity Resources (SAMHSA)
- Improving Cultural Competence Tips (SAMHSA)
- Community Conversations About Mental Health (SAMHSA)
- Mental Health Screening Tools (SAMHSA-HRSA)
- Brother, You’re on My Mind Toolkit (Omega Psi Phi Fraternity/NIMHD)
- National Institute on Mental Health Publications (NIMH)