With such diversity in the United States, there are more cultures blending together than ever before. However, there are significant differences in how each culture views mental health disorders. Not only is there a lack of health care professionals in general, there are very few of those that cater to specific cultures.
While there are therapists and psychologists that are trained in ethnic minority genres, the availability of those are sparse, to say the least. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Asian Americans are 70% less likely to get treated for mental health disorders, Hispanics or Latinos are 60% less likely, African Americans are 50% less likely, and American Indians are 40% less likely to receive treatment for mental health conditions.
Why Are Minorities Less Likely to Get Mental Health Care?
There may be many reasons why those of different cultures do not get mental health care. Many of them lack the health insurance or access to health care. Here are some other common reasons minorities do not get treatment for depression and other mental disorders:
- Stigma – In many cultures, psychological illnesses are just not seen the way others do. Certain religions and cultural beliefs reject the idea of mental health care in any way. For example, in India, those with serious mental conditions typically go to shrines or temples rather than a doctor. In many families, going to see a psychiatrist or therapist would require the approval of the family and those who need treatment are sometimes too afraid to ask or they are just ignored due to the stigma of mental illnesses.
- Lack of Care: To feel most comfortable, a minority may rather be treated by someone of their own culture and there is a shortage of psychiatrists overall. In fact, there are literally only one in 30 thousand psychiatrists in many areas of the United States. Finding someone with your own cultural beliefs may be almost impossible.
- Language Barrier – In many cases, those who are from other cultures do not speak English or speak very little English so they have an even more limited choice of psychiatrists or therapists.
- Financial Issues – For some, money is a big issue to getting mental health care. Minorities typically make less money than the majority and therefore, have trouble getting insurance or paying for doctor’s visits.
- Cultural Bias – Even if it is unintentional, some therapists who are not specifically trained in cultural heritage may show a bias toward minorities. A culturally competent therapist should be sensitive and aware of their own as well as others’ cultural differences and know how to treat different cultural beliefs.
What You Can Do
There are many online therapists and counselors that specialize in multicultural therapy. In fact, one such website, BetterHelp, has over 2,000 licensed professionals and many who are trained in cultural and racial heritage specifically. In addition, seeing a therapist online is less expensive than traditional therapy, there is no need for insurance, and you do not need an appointment. If you have the internet or a phone, you can be talking to a therapist today.
Post written by Marie Miguel.