While mental illness can impact people of any race, ethnicity, gender, or identity, access to quality and affordable mental health care can be limited for those with marginalized identities. Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008 to spread awareness and to share a vision of a nation where no one feels alone in their struggle.
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Youth Mental Health
While some racial and ethnic minority youth experience lower rates of lifetime mental health disorders, their disorders tend to have a more chronic course. Additionally, several studies estimate that racial and ethnic minority children and youth are only 1/3rd as likely to receive mental health services as whites despite comparable rates of emotional or behavioral disturbances. The mechanisms underlying mental health disparities in racial and ethnic minority youth includes: Intersectionality with other marginalized identities (ex: gender, sexual orientation, documentation status), Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs (ex: maltreatment, parental incarceration, violence), neighborhood-level stressors (ex: social support, safety, quality of resources), socioeconomic status, family structure, practitioner implicit bias, and lack of culturally competent care.
Here are a few things you can try to improve access to mental health care for racial and ethnic minority youth:
- Primary care settings are the first point of contact and easier to access than specialty behavioral health care, particularly for racial and ethnic minority individuals. Call the NC-PAL Child Psychiatry team with behavioral health questions or if you are in need of resource/referral support.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has compiled a list of helpful resources for parents and caregivers, children and teens, mental health providers, child welfare and juvenile justice professionals, healthcare providers, educators and school staff, and policy makers for National Minority Mental Health Month. Click HERE to access the resource center.