Learn about minority behavioral mental health resources. This can help you find culturally sensitive counseling and therapy that help improve your well-being.
Mental illness can affect anyone, but people from diverse populations often experience greater impacts. Minority communities can face additional pressures due to their race, religion, sexuality or disability. Racism and bigotry cause trauma, which can cause mental health issues. This may be one reason American Indians and Alaskan Natives have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The care minorities receive can also be lacking. For example, only 1 in 3 Black people who need mental health care receive it, and they’re also less likely to receive care consistent with guidelines.
Minority behavioral mental health care needs to take into account an individual’s identity, their culture and the way they experience prejudice in society. Culturally competent care helps build trust and encourages higher levels of patient participation, which leads to better outcomes.
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Culturally Competent Mental Health Organizations and Clinics
Culturally competent care is broadly defined as care that can meet the social, cultural and linguistic needs of patients. Providers need to understand how an individual’s well-being is shaped by their race, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and physical and mental abilities. Steps to ensure culturally competent care is provided include:
- Providing interpreter services
- Hiring minority staff
- Training staff to increase cultural awareness
- Coordinating with traditional healers
- Making clinics easily accessible
- Expanding hours of operation
- Incorporating culture-specific values in health promotion
When looking for culturally competent care, it can be good to start with Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). These clinics are certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and must show that they’re culturally competent. CCBHCs can’t refuse service due to an inability to pay, residency status or lack of a permanent address. This can be helpful for some minority groups who experience homelessness at higher rates, such as LBGTQ youth. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing maintains a list of CCBHCs around the country where you can access culturally competent care.
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Community Support Groups and Peer-Led Initiatives
Talking to people with the same experiences as you can be very helpful when it comes to managing or overcoming mental illness. This is where community support groups and peer-led initiatives are useful.
Peer-led initiatives are a range of mental health support activities that occur between people with shared experiences, such as being diagnosed with a mental illness. Support is provided by someone who’s learned to manage and heal from their own condition. This can be provided in groups or one on one, and peer leaders can teach specific skills, inspire hope, connect people with tools or resources and help create recovery road maps.
Community support groups bring together people with similar experiences, whether this is addiction, mental illness or trauma. People share their struggles, feelings and coping strategies. This can help combat isolation, reduce stress and give a sense of empowerment. When led by peers, support groups are a type of peer-led initiative.
More organizations are offering peer support for mental health, as it’s been shown to increase quality of life and social functioning. It also decreases hospitalization and costs to the mental health system.
Mental Health America keeps a list of peer support programs; however, these don’t necessarily cater to specific minorities. The best way to find these services in your area may be to use Google. You can also talk to your community; local groups can often point you in the right direction or may even host a support group. The national organizations listed below may also be able to refer you to local resources.
Mental Health Conditions We Treat
ADD & ADHD
Disorder in which individuals display characteristics such as distraction, impulsiveness, hyperactivity and poor attention.Learn More
Anxiety can be described as the constant feeling of an alarm going off when an individual feels stressed or threatened.Learn More
A disorder which causes changes in an individual’s moods, energy levels and prevents the ability to handle day to day tasks.Learn More
When left untreated, depression can lead to serious long-term effects, such as feelings of loneliness and thoughts of suicide.Learn More
A condition in which an individual displays abnormal eating habits, negatively affecting one’s mental and physical health.Learn More
A mental health disorder in which individuals frequently experience repetitive, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.Learn More
A personality disorder can significantly disrupt the lives of both the affected person and those who care about that person.Learn More
A disorder that may develop after experiencing or witnessing something traumatic, shocking, scary, or life threatening.Learn More
Most individuals suffering with a substance abuse disorder may want to quit using, but the urges are too strong to control.Learn More
Culturally Specific Counseling and Therapy Services
Culturally specific counseling and therapy take a non-Eurocentric view of mental health. Psychotherapy strategies and theories are influenced by the cultural background of the people who developed them. This means most therapies used in America have a Western cultural bias. For example, individualism is an American value, and in this country, counseling often emphasizes the importance of self over the importance of the group. This can ostracize patients from cultures that see the group as more important than the individual and make it difficult for them to get benefit from their care.
Culturally specific care doesn’t necessarily need to be provided by someone of the same cultural background. Training, awareness and an open mind can help any counselor provide culturally competent therapy. However, it can still be difficult to find a culturally sensitive therapist. It’s important to shop around and ask questions of your therapist so you understand how familiar they are with working with diverse populations. You should also be willing to change therapists if they aren’t a good match.
It can be hard to make progress if you spend your therapy time educating your therapist about the societal pressures you face. Often, friends or family in your community can provide recommendations for culturally sensitive therapists. If you’re using an online therapy service, you can often ask to be matched with someone of the same cultural background.
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Online Resources and Helplines Tailored for Minority Individuals
Communities have always provided emotional and material support to each other. The internet has allowed this support to grow beyond just local assistance. There are many organizations that can help you find culturally sensitive mental health care.
African American Mental Health Resources
- Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM)
- Black Mental Health Alliance
- Therapy for Black Girls
Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Resources
Latinx American Mental Health Resources
Native American and Alaska Native Mental Health Resources
Islamic Mental Health Resources
Jewish Mental Health Resources
LGBT Mental Health Resources
Disability Mental Health Resources
Collaborations With Community Leaders to Promote Minority Behavioral Mental Health Awareness
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month occurs every July. It helps highlight the mental health disparities in American populations and helps people find the best care. It’s an opportunity for leaders and organizations to promote mental health among their communities. Leaders who understand the importance of mental health can help end the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Taking a stand in support of counseling and therapy encourages people to seek assistance.
SAMHSA has Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (FBCI) that use partnerships between federal programs and community organizations to promote mental health. You can also talk to local leaders to find out what they do to support mental health.
FHE Health takes an integrated approach to mental health care, rather than focusing on the traditional road map. We’re available around the clock to answer your questions about managing your mental illness in a culturally sensitive way.