Addressing stigma, disparities in minority mental health: Access to care among barriers

April 03, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The Nation’s Health

“When people talk about mental illness, when it’s discussed or shown through the media, they never really show people of color,” said Dior Vargas, describing her experience of living as a Latina with major depressive disorder. “That’s…why I felt alone.” Vargas and others are working to reduce the isolation and stigma that sometimes keep racial and ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from getting the benefits of mental health care. Larke Huang, director of the Office of Behavioral Health Equity at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), said a number of factors can lead to worse mental health outcomes for minority communities, such as poverty, difficulty in accessing care, and a shortage of culturally competent providers. She noted that SAMHSA monitors the programs it funds to ensure that they are equitable. To address the shortage of care, more than 600 psychologists of color have been trained through the government’s Minority Fellowship Program, and training is being provided to community-based organizations that work with minority populations.

Spark Extra!A recent study found that black patients were less likely than white patients to receive treatment for depression.