Barriers to Mental Health

Barriers to mental health support in the African American community is a topic that has been discussed repeatedly over the decades. One approach that seems to be helping is discussing the topics of self care and sharing the positives of taking care of self. There are more resources and content that share strategies on being whole and aiding our mind, body, spirit. Even with the African American community encouraging each other there is still lack of minorities who are in the field of mental health.

According to Discovery Behavioral Health family Center For Discovery (Feb. 2019), "Only 6.2 percent of psychologists, 5.6 percent of advanced-practice psychiatric nurses, 12.6 percent of social workers, and 21.3 percent of psychiatrists are members of minority groups. According to the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI), only 3.7% of members in the American Psychiatric Association and 1.5% of members in the American Psychological Association are Black."

These statistics it self illustrates that African Americans are not presented in the Mental Health field which is a barrier to the community of reviving resources for their mental health treatment. The representation of seeing African Americans in the field can create validity and understanding to the community that seeing mental health professionals is a form of care. Due to the African American experience it has been argued that African Americans are at high risk for mental health issues.

"Over 25% of African American youth exposed to violence have proven to be at high risk for Post

Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Office of the US Surgeon General, 2001). Psychologists can teach community intervention methods, such as dialogue and coalition building, as well as interpersonal communication, negotiation, mediation, and community organizing. For traumatic stress, psychologists can encourage youth to contemplate the psychosocial impact of violence, loss and suffering as well as crisis response skills (O'Connor, 2001)."

"African Americans are nearly twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with schizophrenia (Snowden, 2001). Psychologists have become an integral part in programs that help treat schizophrenic patients, allowing them to live normal, independent lives by teaching them to handle the symptoms and effects of schizophrenia, such as voices or delusions (McGuire, 2000)."

The mental health field has an opportunity to help this population by hiring more African American clinicians and funding more programs to assist helping the African American population. It is important to have cultural competence and diversity in the field so that barriers can be decreased and solutions can be increased to helping this specific population.

Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn

Self care is one strategy to make sure that ones mental health is being nurtured. Sometimes taking a break, laughing, exercise, eating healthy are always to keep our mental health healthy. Mental health is just as important as ones physical health. Here are some quick strategies below to work on your mental health:

1. Check - in with a mental health clinician

2. Journal

3. Exercise

4. Eat healthy

5. Surround yourself with positivity

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