INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, aiming to shed light on the unique health care challenges faced by racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States.
News 8 spokes with a local expert to lay out the healthcare challenges that minorities are facing in Indiana. Experts emphasize the importance of addressing specific needs and how to overcome barriers to mental health treatment in certain communities.
The percentage of people with mental illness who receive treatment remains low. A report from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health shows only 25% of Asian adults, 31% of Black adults, and around 49% of white adults seek treatment for mental health conditions. Latino American adults face even greater disparities, being 50% less likely to receive mental health care.
One significant barrier to accessing treatment is poverty, which can disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority groups.
Barbara Thompson, Executive Director of NAMI Indiana says the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment is another obstacle that needs to be addressed. She says seeking help for mental health concerns may be considered taboo within specific communities due to religious and cultural practices.
Additionally, the shortage of therapists across the mental health care system exacerbates the challenges faced by these communities. The lack of representation of minorities in the field has a ripple effect on the quality of care available.
Thompson said, “Studies show that minorities are more likely to be misdiagnosed when they don’t receive care from someone culturally competent. This can significantly delay their recovery. While finding a therapist from one’s own community is not necessary, it is essential to inquire about their cultural competency to ensure the most effective care.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness recognizes the invaluable contribution of Bebe Moore Campbell during this awareness month. Bebe Moore Campbell, an author, and co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles, played a pivotal role in breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and raising awareness among underserved communities.
NAMI Indiana offers specific programs tailored to minority communities, including Sharing Hope for the Black community and NAMI Compartiendo Esperanza: Mental Wellness in the Hispanic-Latino community. These initiatives foster mental health and wellness discussions through storytelling and guided dialogue.
Through NAMI In Your Own Voice, individuals bravely share their personal mental health journeys, challenging assumptions and dismantling stereotypes associated with mental health conditions.
NAMI Indiana will actively participate in the IBE Black and Minority Health Fair on Sunday, hosting a public “In Your Own Voice” presentation and providing attendees with valuable resources.
For additional support, people can contact the national NAMI helpline at 800-950-6264.