Stigma and judgment surrounding behavioral healthcare continues to hinder Black individuals from seeking treatment for their mental health, as reported by Mental Health America (MHA).1 Addressing these obstacles through education and expanding care access is especially critical as nearly nine million Black Americans report having some form of mental illness.2

Mental health in Black communities

The pandemic has highlighted the rising need for behavioral health integration across the globe. However, black community members still largely avoid treatment options. This can be attributed to the fact that black individuals have been treated historically different than individuals of other races – especially within the healthcare setting.

The MHA report notes that Black individuals are more often diagnosed with schizophrenia and less often diagnosed with mood disorders compared to white individuals with the same symptoms. Additionally, the report notes they are less likely to be offered medication or therapy to treat their illnesses. Misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed individuals are more likely to struggle to understand their mental health diagnosis and associated treatment options, making them less likely to seek out necessary care.

Education is the first step in changing the paradigm. Throughout Black History Month and every month, we encourage you to spread awareness on the importance of behavioral health and the substantial positive impact it can have on an individual’s long-term health.

Click here for more information on mental health opportunities for black community members as well as a list of resources.


References:

  1. Black and African American communities and Mental Health. Mental Health America. (2020). Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.mhanational.org/issues/black-and-african-american-communities-and-mental-health
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Mental illness. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness#part_2539
By Kindred