The Mental Health Crisis
As the mental health crisis among children, adolescents and young adults in the United States has been exacerbated by the pandemic, some communities of color are breaking through entrenched cultural stigmas. However, African American and Hispanic people have substantially less access to mental health services, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2017, 13% of U.S. adolescents aged 12 to 17 said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, up from 8% in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. For people ages 10 to 24, suicide rates increased 57% from 2007 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Amid those increases, mental health services for children and adolescents have continued to be under-resourced and unable to meet demand. Those left furthest behind are young people of color, experts say.
African Americans and Latinos are more at risk for depression than whites, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). And African American and Latino communities have the lowest rates of mental health and substance abuse treatment use, according to data from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Cost, a barrier to services
Therapy can range from $65 to $250 per session, according to the GoodTherapy directory of therapists. Psychiatric residential treatment
centers can range from $10,000 to $60,000 a month, and sober living centers from $3,000 to $10,000 a month, according to HealthyPlace, a mental health website by San Antonio psychiatrist Harry Croft.
Nearly 11 million Hispanics in the United States live without any health insurance and more than 3 million African Americans live without health insurance, according to the U.S. Census. Even for those who have insurance, mental health treatment has historically been unevenly covered by health insurance companies, meaning people may have to pay for mental health treatment out of pocket.
The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was intended to prohibit health insurers from making mental health coverage more restrictive than physical health coverage, but federal enforcement has been elusive, and most Americans continue to have trouble finding parity in coverage, according to an article in The Washington Post.
People who don't have the money to access care are often relegated to using community resources, which can be limited. But local institutions are starting or expanding programs to combat mental health problems. Unfortunately, most programs require individuals to have mental health needs related to bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia, areas targeted by the Department of State Health Services. Although other community resources may be offered.
College campuses feel the effects
Community colleges and universities see the impact when low-income students attempt to seek mental health treatment for the first time. Many students, especially first-generation students and students of color, access these services for the first time in their lives when they are in college.
There are other unique challenges for people of color when it comes to seeking mental health help, such as treatment centers that are not located near their communities and a lack of African American and Hispanic therapists. Language barriers among non-English speakers and legal status further limit options for finding appropriate care. This adds to the historically magnified cultural stigma against mental illness among minority communities, but experts say that has been changing for the better in the past two years.
Bloomwell aims to make this situation a whole lot better for all minorities who can't access the services they deserve, stay with us. Be part of the change.