We only have one life to live, and while society has created a stigma around mental health issues, race, and seeking help, we can’t let that hold us back from living our best lives. The stigma too often prevents people of color from seeking help, and we need to end it. Factors such as accessibility, credibility, and cultural values all play a role in why people of color are on average less likely to seek treatment.
Why Aren’t People of Color Seeking Mental Health Treatment?
According to an article that was published in the American Psychological Association’s e-newsletter, just one third or less of ethnic minorities (defined as African, Latinx & Asian Americans) seek mental health treatment. The study suggests that there is a perception that this group sees less value in treatment compared to European-Americans. Of course, there has to be a conversation about equal access to high quality mental health care in communities of color, which is still a problem in many parts of the country.
In addition, people of color often find it difficult to relate to cultural values that reflect European-Americans. As mental health professionals, our backgrounds and experiences can have an influence on the course of treatment. Without a deep understanding of the challenges people of color uniquely face, a client might perceive the treatment as irrelevant. Perspective plays a big part in understanding and treating the client, and if this isn’t possible, the therapy may very well be ineffective. A study from 2014 showed that ethnic minorities considered issues regarding race as more important than White clients, and thus when treatment does not address those culturally relevant issues, it affects how they respond to services. As mental health professionals, we must all do our best to prove we will provide relevant care, no matter our race—the data suggests ending this stigma starts within more effective mental health care.
End the Stigma
The recent push towards ending the stigma surrounding race and mental health has been inspiring to see. Through my work, I hope to contribute to ending the stigma by creating a safe, encouraging and relevant space to allow clients to become the best versions of themselves. I focus on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to educate my clients on their thoughts and behaviors. Empathy, natural compassion and confidentiality are what I use to help my clients reach their true potential.