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Minority Population Access to Care

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — July 12, 2019 — 2 min read
Cultural differences affect perceptions of mental illness and can influence whether or not we seek help, what type of help we seek, what coping styles and supports we have and what treatments might work for us, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Approximately 46.6 million, or one in five, U.S. adults live with a mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration data from 2017. Of those, 18.9 percent are American Indian or Alaskan Native, 16.2 percent are African American, 15.2 percent are Hispanic, 14.5 percent are Asian, and 20.5 percent are white.

For many minority populations, the stigma associated with mental illness can be a major barrier to treatment. A Hispanic/Latino person, for example, may try to hide the fact that they’re dealing with mental illness because it is not culturally acceptable, said Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Community Engagement Specialist and Piedmont Region CIT Coordinator Kilsy Silva-Disla. They don’t wants to be an extra strain for their family, she said.

“To say that we have mental health needs or issues would mean that we’re a liability or not good enough to perform or to move forward,” she said.” Silva-Disla is reaching out to this population through local churches.

Other barriers can include transportation, language, financial, educational and access to health care. Recently, Cardinal Innovations reached out to the Latino population with its first annual Latino Forum, “Caminando en Mis Zapatas,” which means “Walking in My Shoes.” This Spanish-language only event involved several bilingual Cardinal Innovations staff members who helped share information about available services and supports.

In the black population, stigma is also an issue. One might be told by a family member to “just pray on it,” said Cardinal Innovations Access Manager Shadale Jacobs, who often hears requests for providers from a certain ethnicity.

Diana Duncan, co-founder of the Minority Coalition of Behavioral Healthcare Providers, has worked for 10 years to remove barriers to minority providers with the member community.

If you need assistance, call our 24/7 Access and Crisis Line at 1-800-939-5911.
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