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Minorities and Mental Health: Access to Care Remains a Huge Hurdle

 |  General

While it’s true that mental illness does not discriminate, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) have historically faced many barriers to receiving access to adequate mental health services. Even before the pandemic, health inequities, such as poverty and discrimination, caused drastic health disparities among vulnerable, underserved populations. And in the past year, we’ve seen an alarming rate of BIPOC patients who are struggling so much financially, that achieving optimal health seems unattainable. 

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and our team at Bayless Integrated Healthcare joins the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) and other groups advocating for improved access to mental health treatment and services.

According to the OMH, poor mental health can lead to a wide array of physical and emotional problems that can quickly snowball out of control. In addition, barriers to access of care, a lack of help and support, and poor quality of care can lead to suicide among racial and ethnic minority populations.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the CDC report that:

  • In 2017, 10.5% (3.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had serious thoughts of suicide including 8.3% of non-Hispanic blacks and 9.2% of Hispanics.
  • In 2017, 7.5% (2.5 million) of young adults aged 18 to 25 had a serious mental illness including 7.6% of non-Hispanic Asians, 5.7% of Hispanics and 4.6% of non-Hispanic blacks.
  • Feelings of anxiety and other signs of stress may become more pronounced during a global pandemic.
  • People in some racial and ethnic minority groups may respond more strongly to the stress of a pandemic or crisis.

What are the barriers for minorities?

BIPOC who struggle with mental health issues face many barriers that prevent them from seeking out and receiving proper care. These include:

  • Jobs that don’t provide healthcare
  • Low income
  • Logistical challenges, such as transportation, taking time off of work and finding childcare
  • Cultural or religious beliefs that prevent them from seeking care
  • Disinformation that causes fear
  • Language barriers
  • Distrust of health care providers, based on past negative experiences, bias and discrimination

What’s the solution?

It’s a complex problem with no easy fix. But, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are talking about health inequities, particularly when it comes to mental health. Raising awareness of this issue is a start, but many BIPOC need help now.

The good news is that many providers, like Bayless, offer telehealth sessions, which provide a private, secure, discreet option for seeking help. And because we’ve gone the extra mile to receive national certification in telemedicine, our Bayless team adheres to strict medical and ethical guidelines.

Patients can also schedule appointments at our offices in Phoenix, Avondale and Mesa. Our highly-trained team of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and social workers serve our patients with compassion and dignity. We strongly oppose discrimination in any form, and we stand with all of our patients on their healing journey, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation.

New patients can call Bayless Integrated Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.