Black Adults More Likely to Seek Mental Health Treatment at EDs, Pre-pandemic Data Show

May 19, 2023

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Fierce Health Care

According to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, Black adults were nearly twice as likely as White adults to seek mental health care in an emergency department from 2018 to 2020. Black adults had higher rates of emergency department visits associated with all categories of mental health disorders studied, including mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders. The report also found Black patients had significantly longer waiting times in emergency departments than White patients, and their visits were less likely to result in a hospital admission or care transfer. “Research has shown that Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adults are less likely to receive routine treatment for mental health disorders,” the authors note. “In the absence of routine care, patients with mental health disorders often receive care related to a mental health disorder in emergency departments.” This study took place before emergency department overcapacity documented during the pandemic. To address these issues, hospital and provider groups are calling for more investment in behavioral health inpatient services.

Spark Extra! Learn about addressing behavioral health disparities in Black communities.