Mental illness does not discriminate-it affects people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. While mental illness is widespread, there is a huge disparity in the treatment and quality of care underrepresented populations receive versus Caucasians.
Barriers to care for the underrepresented populations include income, stigma, health care providers unaware of treatments or managed care, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (OMHD).
- African Americans are more likely to experience a mental disorder than their white counterparts, but are less likely to receive treatment (SAMSHA Surgeon General’s Report).
- Culture biases against mental health professionals and health care professionals in general prevent many African Americans from accessing care due to prior experiences with historical misdiagnoses. inadequate treatment, and a lack of cultural understanding; only 2% of psychiatrists, 2% of psychologists and 4% of social workers in the U.S. are African American. (NAMI)
- Among Latinos with mental disorders, fewer than 1 in 11 contact mental health care specialists, while fewer than 1 in 5 contact general health care providers.(NAMI)
- Tragically, due to lack of cultural knowledge, Latino youth with mental illness are generally misdiagnosed as having anger problems or just conduct disorders. (NAMI)
In Ohio, it is imperative to be aware of mental health disparities, especially since 15 percent of the African American population is uninsured, while 40 percent live in poverty. More than 30 percent of Ohio’s Hispanic population is uninsured as well, leaving them unable to access mental health care.