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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. Our culture can influence whether we seek help, what type of help we seek, what supports we have, and what treatments might work for us. 

Mental Illness Statistics in the U.S.

One in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness according to 2017 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Mental illness affects every ethnicity—the numbers below reflect the amount of people with a mental illness within each ethnic group:
  • 18.9 percent of American Indians or Alaskan Natives
  • 16.2 percent of Black Americans
  • 15.2 percent of Hispanic Americans
  • 14.5 percent of Asian Pacific Americans
  • 20.5 percent of white Americans

Mental Illness Stigma in Minority Populations

For many minority populations, the stigma associated with mental illness can be a major barrier to treatment. “An Hispanic or 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 want 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.

Events for the Latino population, such as “Caminando en Mis Zapatas,” which means “Walking in My Shoes,” are a helpful way to reach out. This specific event was a Spanish-language only event and 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,” according to Cardinal Innovations Access Manager Shadale Jacobs, who often hears requests for providers from Black community members.

Many factors impact access to care for minority populations—stigma, transportation, finances, racism, unconscious bias, and more. However, providers can take steps to break down at least one of these barriers. By focusing on cultural competency and becoming trained in implicit bias, providers can better meet the needs of their patients. 

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Updated on July 31, 2020 to include updated information. 
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