Celebrating Minority Mental Health
Written by: Carol Hajdinak, MS, LCSW, Director of Community Counseling at the Children’s Home Network
Mental illness affects individuals of all races, cultures, ages, religions and income levels. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness. Florida is ranked 43rd in the country for “Access” to mental health care according to a report released in 2019 by Mental Health America. A low “Access” ranking indicates that the state provides less access to health insurance and mental health treatment. Obtaining mental health services has become increasingly challenging with due to issues with insurance, long wait times, difficulty finding a mental health provider, increasing deductibles and co-pays which add to the burdens of gaining access to quality care.
In 2008, the US House of Representatives announced July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to bring attention to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness. Ms. Campbell was an author, journalist, teacher and a pioneer in researching mental health issues among minority groups.
Some of the additional barriers and reasons why minorities are not getting adequate mental health care may include:
· A mental health workforce that is not representative of the different minority groups seeking services
· Mental health stigma
· Racism, prejudice, and discrimination in treatment settings
· Language barriers and insufficient bi-lingual providers
· Lack of available childcare
· A lack of adequate health insurance coverage
· A lack of localized available services in communities.
The Children’s Home Network (CHN) serves under-served populations with services designed to combat the many barriers that block access. CHN’s Pinellas Support Team (PST) provides behavioral and mental health services throughout Pinellas County. The PST program’s services are designed to be:
· Timely- Access within 5 days of referral.
· Accessible- Services are provided in-home, in-school, or in a community setting.
· Convenient- Appointments are available during the day as well as in the evenings and weekends.
· Diverse- Multicultural therapists are available to represent the individual seeking services.
· Bi-lingual- Spanish speaking therapists are available.
· Collaborative- Families are connected with other needed services and supports in their community to meet additional needs.
How can we work together to create parity so everyone has the opportunity to obtain needed services?
· Educate yourself on mental health stigma and disparity and share your knowledge with others.
· Encourage mental health organizations to hire staff from diverse backgrounds in addition to their governing board of directors.
· Write your legislators both state and federal to increase funding and improve access to quality mental health services.
· Be open to understanding what others may be experiencing including those who may look, live or pray differently than you. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure our community is inclusive.
· Consider a gift to the Children’s Home Network which provides mental health services that help unlock the potential of at-risk children and families by providing compassionate and effective services that create opportunities for success.