There are millions of Americans living without proper access to mental health care. Among those individuals are an alarming degree of minorities, who have greater difficulty obtaining resources for mental health and substance abuse issues. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are significantly less likely to receive services for mental illness than are non-Hispanic whites". Both cultural stigma and oppression present obstacles to adequate treatment. This July is Minority Mental Health Month, which is dedicated to spreading awareness about the problems minorities face in obtaining proper health care.
Despite growing knowledge in mental health, issues for minorities fail to be addressed. The stigmas in Asian-American culture support the idea that seeking treatment is shameful. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Asian-American youth, an unfortunate result of internalized attitudes towards mental issues. In Asian cultures, coming forward with mental illness leads the family to believe that the sufferer is "broken" or a product of poor parenting. For fear of disappointing their loved ones, individuals are likely to shoulder that burden alone. As a result, those affected by suicidal ideation or substance abuse are compelled to hide their struggles from their community.
However, stigmas aren't the only obstacle in the way of proper treatment. For African Americans, years of oppression still affect health care opportunities. African Americans continue to experience differences in socioeconomic status that are not easily reversible. Those that are impoverished are less likely to afford mental or substance abuse resources. If there is a resource available to them, the quality of care is lower overall, making it an unappealing choice. Because of this, mental health issues will go unaddressed and inevitably affect future generations.
Our minority communities are underserved in the realm of health resources. Minority Mental Health Month presents an opportunity to seek ways to extend mental health care to disparaged communities that suffer from stigma and oppression. Mental illness and substance abuse issues do not discriminate against race or ethnicity, so our outlook on mental health shouldn't either. With the appropriate cultural resources, we can help the members of our community gain access to the help they deserve. The Office of Minority Health can provide additional information on promoting Minority Mental Health Month.
If you need assistance overcoming substance abuse and mental health issues, Niznik Behavioral Health is here to help. We believe everyone deserves the chance for a brighter future, no matter your background. Contact us now.