While mental health conditions can impact anyone, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the United States are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress, such as sadness and hopelessness.
Black Americans as well as other minority groups are also disproportionately faced with socio-economic challenges that limit their resources for mental health, and those living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those with more financial security.
This Black History Month, we’re exploring the barriers to mental health care Black Americans face today and how Valley Oaks Health and other service providers are trying to dismantle racism within our society and our industry.
Common mental health barriers
Historical dehumanization, oppression, and violence against Black Americans have evolved into present-day racism—systemic, interpersonal, and internalized—and cultivates a uniquely mistrustful and less affluent community experience, characterized by a myriad of disparities including inadequate care in the health system.
Health care discrimination can be seen with provider bias. A provider lacking cultural competencies can hold biases and even provide misdiagnoses, resulting in mistrust or inadequate help.
Accessibility is another barrier that people of color may face based on local resources, economic hardships, or lack of financial security. Additionally, the stressors of racism and insecurity are common ways that living in underserved communities can be a barrier to Black people.
Providing access today
Racism’s effects on the mental health of the Black community are serious and must be addressed. At Valley Oaks Health, we provide healthcare to all people. Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, we welcome you to find the help you need to live your most fulfilling life. Whether that is with a group or individually, regardless of your need and regardless of your background, Valley Oaks is committed to providing mental health care access to everyone.