Jump to content

Welcome to our center for all the latest content and information. We encourage you to register in order to connect to the topics and communities that matter most to you.

  • Proper mental health care is essential in any community, but especially in those where it has historically been stigmatized and less available. Due to many factors, including racial trauma and systematic oppression, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities have experienced barriers to helpful interventions like therapy and other forms of mental health care. Keep reading to learn more about BIPOC mental health, how to empower mental health in BIPOC communities, and ways to access help when needed. 

    Stigma and Current Barriers 

    Stigma is prejudice against a specific group of practices, people, places, or nations. It promotes negative stereotypes by labeling a particular group or activity. A substantial amount of mental health stigma in ethnic communities stems from cultural beliefs and negative connotations of help-seeking. 

    For instance, in many African American cultures, mental health challenges can be seen as a sign of weakness. Many Asian cultures believe seeking help for mental health conditions is shameful and can reflect poorly on an individual. In some Latinx communities, historical gender roles and the belief that personal matters should be kept private may play a role in avoiding help-seeking. These cultural beliefs can often deter BIPOC individuals from reaching out for support and accessing beneficial care. 

    Physical Barriers 

    Mental health care services are often unaffordable for BIPOC communities, as research shows that most communities of color typically live below the poverty level. Furthermore, communities of color may have less access to health insurance and have to pay out of pocket for mental health services. Many people in these communities don't have the disposable income to do so, limiting their access to care. 

    Mental health providers are also generally located in areas with higher socioeconomic status. Traveling to and from treatment can be an inconvenience for many in BIPOC communities and may also not be feasible. Living at the poverty level, working long hours, and lacking the ability to take time off can also make consistently and conveniently seeking care challenging in BIPOC communities. 

    Healthcare Mistrust 

    Historically, BIPOC people, particularly members of Black and Latino communities, have felt a sense of mistrust from healthcare providers as a result of the impact of systemic racism that has targeted these communities for generations. 

    Current studies show that 7 out of 10 Black Americans feel mistreated by the healthcare system. Experiences like these contribute to the avoidance of seeking care, which can then lead to worsening mental health conditions. 

    Lack of Representation 

    Historical and current systemic oppression may also contribute to the hesitancy to be vulnerable in BIPOC communities. Finding a therapist who understands race's significant effect on a person's life experiences and traumas is also crucial. With the psychology workforce predominantly made up of white people (84%), BIPOC communities may experience a lack of cultural competence in therapy. This can deter seeking treatment because an individual may feel like their therapist doesn't understand them and cannot help them in the way a BIPOC therapist could. 

    Current BIPOC Mental Health Statistics 

    Statistics continue to shed light on the prevalence of mental health conditions and the disparities in mental health care for BIPOC communities. A 2022 Blue Cross Blue Shield study examining racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of major depression showed that the condition was disproportionately undiagnosed and untreated in Black and Hispanic communities. 

    Other studies reveal the stigma surrounding mental health care in BIPOC communities. For example, 43% of Black people and 47% of Hispanic people prefer to handle mental health challenges by themselves instead of seeing a therapist. Furthermore, about 25% of Pacific Islanders and Asian American people receive mental health treatment. The few studies examining mental health care in Indigenous communities also estimated a low percentage of the population accessing care. 

    As rates of mental health conditions are often underreported, the percentage of people in BIPOC communities with mental health conditions appears low. Here are reports of mental health conditions, according to the 2017 American Psychiatric Association's report on mental health disparities: 

    • 16% of African Americans 
    • 22% of Indigenous people 
    • 13% of Asian Americans 
    • 24% of people of two or more races 
    • 15% of Hispanic Americans  

    With low percentage rates of reported BIPOC mental health conditions, fewer care options are created for these populations making access to care even more difficult.  

    Strategies for Improving Care in BIPOC Communities 

    Improving care in BIPOC communities requires a multifaceted approach. With all the factors contributing to stigma and access barriers, mental health professionals need to address these issues and incorporate cultural competence in therapy. The mental health care system can achieve competency in many ways. 

    Increase Mental Health Care Accessibility 

    Barriers like socioeconomic status, lack of insurance, and physical location can deter people from seeking treatment. Creating low-cost and free community-based programs tailored to the specific needs of people of color can help reduce this barrier. 

    Increasing telehealth availability can also help with this access issue. Telehealth allows people to receive mental health care from the comfort and privacy of their own space. It also removes transportation and scheduling barriers, making it easier to seek care when convenient. 

    Access to telehealth can not only address location barriers but also allow people of color to cast a wider net for BIPOC therapists who may not have been accessible due to location. Telehealth also creates a more private therapeutic experience, which can help reduce treatment-seeking hesitance due to cultural stigmas. Increasing access to low-cost and state insurance plans, like Medicaid, can also reduce out-of-pocket costs for those with low income. 

    Embrace Cultural Differences 

    As we mentioned previously, a lack of culturally competent care often deters people of color from seeking treatment. Hiring diverse providers can remedy this issue by creating spaces where BIPOC communities feel comfortable. Having a provider of a similar race or ethnicity may make BIPOC communities feel more understood and at ease when seeking mental health care. 

    Providing cultural competence workshops for mental health providers can also help them understand the effect one's culture has on their life experiences and outlooks. Providing care in multiple languages can also increase receptiveness to treatment. 

    White mental health providers can benefit from learning more about the experiences of people of color through engaging in community groups. By ensuring approaches to mental health care are appropriate and supportive of one's culture, therapists may experience increased engagement from BIPOC communities regarding help-seeking. 

    Educate and Destigmatize 

    Educating BIPOC communities about the benefits of mental health care and making culturally competent providers available can help to reduce stigma and increase treatment engagement. Many BIPOC communities are held back from seeking care due to cultural beliefs. Mental health professionals can break down barriers by creating programs to educate and better serve people of color. 

    Mental health professionals can start by understanding what races and ethnicities are in their local communities to create culturally sensitive programming that will effectively reach their audience. Health clinics and schools are ideal places to reach young people while increasing the visibility of community needs. Social media can also be a platform to bring attention to mental health conditions and offer treatment resources. 

    Build Trust 

    Mistrust of the medical community stems back centuries for many BIPOC individuals. Building trust is a complex, multidimensional issue. Changing the system to remove systemic oppression and racist healthcare laws is a first step. As the healthcare system often engages in unfair treatment of the BIPOC community, creating new legislation to improve care and ensure protection may increase trust and the quality of care. 

    The healthcare system must take responsibility for how these communities have been treated in the past and consistently make an effort to provide care that empowers BIPOC individuals. Cultural competence among mental health providers is crucial. Care should always align with the client's experiences and expectations to reduce suspicions and worries regarding the healthcare system. Building awareness about BIPOC cultural values and health-related beliefs may help mental health providers foster trusting relationships in these communities and increase beneficial interactions. 

    Transparency in care may further build trust. BIPOC communities might benefit from healthcare organization orientations with providers that walk them through the treatment-seeking process. Mental health professionals should always provide spaces where BIPOC individuals feel safe and heard. Explaining potential treatment timelines while showing that providers understand their experiences through a culturally competent lens and are there to help, may increase the likelihood that people of color will feel more comfortable seeking care. 

    Community Initiatives and Support Systems 

    The cost of services is often a significant barrier to BIPOC mental health care. Creating community-based initiatives with low-cost or free counseling opens the doors to mental health care for more people of color in need. Healthcare organizations should partner with people in the community to understand the challenges specific communities face. 

    Organizations can create support systems in the workplace and community. Employers can empower mental health by funding and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the workplace and increasing BIPOC representation across all organization levels. Knowing that mental health support is readily available in their workplace can make it easier to get the help they need. 

    Community support groups can increase accessibility to care. Support groups can further destigmatize mental health treatment and help people understand that they are not alone. With healthy support systems, people of color may feel more comfortable expressing their challenges to others. Support groups also provide the perfect opportunity to offer free resources and client referrals to mental health services. 

    Find Help With Telemynd 

    Empowering mental health in the BIPOC community can break down barriers and help people find the help they need. Caring for mental health is essential, and connecting with a mental health specialist can further enhance well-being. 

    Telemynd is an accessible virtual mental health service that brings mental health care to you. With an expansive range of mental health professionals from all backgrounds, people can find the most appropriate care for their unique situations. Telemynd accepts several major insurance companies and can connect people with behavioral health specialists nationwide. Click here to contact Telemynd and learn more about BIPOC mental health, the treatment process, and ways to find treatment. 


  • Create New...