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5 Things to Know About Minority Mental Health


One thing many Americans are learning every day is that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

It doesn’t care about your age, gender or race. It doesn’t care how educated you are or how much money you have. Mental health conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression are equal opportunity. 

Learning how to cope with mental illness is crucial to overall health, but many minority populations lack the education and resources they need to get help. Here are five facts to get you thinking about the mental health issues minority populations are facing in Alabama and Georgia.

1. Less than one in 11 Hispanic Americans with mental disorders contact mental health care specialists.

Mental Health: Culture, Race and Ethnicity,” a supplement to the 1999 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, also found that fewer than one in 20 Hispanic American immigrants use services from mental health specialists. Even though Latinos surveyed for the National Comorbidity Study were fluent English speakers, few used mental health services. For example, 10% with an anxiety disorder used mental health specialists for care. Access to health care is one barrier to getting care. From 1990 to 2000, Latinos more than doubled in number in six states including Georgia (120%). But nearly half of all Hispanics in Georgia are uninsured and three-quarters of foreign-born Hispanics don’t have health insurance, according to the 2012 Georgia Latino Health Report.

2. Nearly half of the Asian American and Pacific Islander population has difficulty accessing mental health treatment because of language barriers.

According to a 2005 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Georgia saw a 173% increase in the Asian American population. But the ability of some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to use the mental healthcare system is limited because they don’t speak English proficiently or there is a shortage of providers who speak the same language. Because of language barriers, the likelihood of misdiagnosis can increase. It can also make it difficult for patients to understand the diagnosis, treatment or medication instructions.

3. Access to mental health services is limited by the rural, isolated location of many Native American communities.

The federal government is responsible for providing health care to members of over 500 federally recognized tribes through the Indian Health Services (IHS) but But access is limited because most IHS clinics and hospitals are located on reservations. In 1980, most American Indians lived on reservations or trust lands, but only one in five live in these areas today. More than half live in urban, suburban or rural non-reservation areas. Having access to mental health services is especially important considering American Indian and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of suicide of any racial or ethnic group in the United States, according to an analysis of National Violent Death Reporting System data from 18 states including Georgia.

4. Suicide is the second leading cause of death after homicide for African Americans between the ages of 13 and 19.

A large-scale study out of the University of Toledo found the rate of suicide deaths among young African-American females increased by 182% from 2001 and 2017. Georgia had the highest rate in the nation, at 5.79 per 100,000 people, between 2015 and 2017. In 2006, 37 people between the ages of 10-19 died by suicide in Alabama, according to the Alabama State Department of Education. The University of Toledo study notes that having ready access to mental health care can help protect against suicides in adolescents.

5. Recovery is possible.

Most people with mental illness can get better, but the first step is getting help. Whether you talk with your doctor or connect with other individuals or family members, help is available. For a list of trusted mental health resources and hotlines, as well as information about free mental health assessments available through Willowbrooke at Tanner in Carrollton, Cartersville and Villa Rica and Willowbrooke at Floyd in Rome, visit tanner.org/hotlinesandresources.