April is National Minority Health Month, dedicated to the goal of achieving healthcare equality for all groups in America. This year’s theme – Bridging Health Equity Across Communities – is particularly relevant to mental health. Although the Affordable Care Act has significantly improved access to mental health services by requiring insurance plans to cover mental health care, and by making health insurance available to those who otherwise may not have had any coverage, there is still much work to be done.
Mental health services and minorities
Members of minority communities face special challenges in obtaining adequate mental health care.
- Financial. Minorities are over-represented among poor Americans and are therefore more likely to have coverage through the state. Although these insurance plans cover mental health services in theory, the reality is that it can be extremely difficult to locate a provider who is in network with Medicaid, or the numerous Medicaid managed care plans currently in existence.
- Access. Mental health professionals locate their practices where they can generate the most business, meaning a location where there is a high rate of private insurance coverage among residents and those who work in the area. Since minorities are concentrated in less affluent areas, it is often hard for them to find qualified professionals they can realistically get to.
- Stigma. In some communities, stigma and lack of awareness discourage people from seeking psychological help.
- Racism. While this country has made great strides in treating people equally, discrimination still exists. Even the fear of bigotry can discourage minorities from seeking help that is available.
Find out more about National Minority Health Month. Check for events in your community.
E-Town Wellness is a friendly, compassionate practice offering solution-focused counseling. Our staff are committed to providing culturally-aware therapy to couples, families and individuals diverse communities such as Evanston and Rogers Park.