By: Shruti Rajan, Outreach Coordinator
July was Multicultural Mental Health month. However, the topic of mental health disparities has been of national concern for decades, and remain only partly understood. Now more than ever, it is essential that all parties involved in the advocacy and delivery of mental health services recognize the critical issues that must be taken into consideration when encountering and serving those from different ethno, cultural, and social backgrounds.
In fact, a 2015 report published by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that there are still significant barriers to obtaining high quality mental health services for multicultural members, including but not limited to: African-Americans, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. Members of these groups were found to be less likely to have access to mental health services and are more likely to use inpatient hospitalization and emergency rooms.
The current state of mental health amongst the multicultural communities contributes to poor outcomes and results in greater use of intensive, costly services. So, while mental illness does not discriminate, it seems like our mental healthcare system inadvertently does.
Keeping this in mind, NAMI Dane County and WEA-Trust hosted a multicultural event on July 24th that brought together Dane County members and leaders to challenge and discuss their viewpoints on the multicultural disparities that exist in mental health service delivery. In recognition of the multifaceted and complex nature of this topic, the experts considered three main questions:
- Current service Delivery Challenges
- Cultural/Social Considerations when Providing Services to Members from These Three Communities
- Future Plans and Directions
A forum of different actors i.e. non-profit leaders, local communities, direct care providers, clergymen, and the general public were given the chance to debrief and ask questions about the current state of multicultural mental health and the future directions.
We hope that this event was just the start of many that are aimed to address the benevolent neglect of mental health concerns that arise in multicultural communities. To become a part of this important conversation, please consider volunteering or getting involved in the advocacy committee at NAMI Dane County. Do your part to make sure that all communities regardless of their race, ethnicity, or color get the treatment and help they deserve.