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Treatment Barriers in the BIPOC Community

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (which many organizations have renamed BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month), founded by Bebe Moore Campbell after witnessing the treatment barriers her daughter faced while trying to seek out mental health treatment. This lack of access to mental health care isn’t uncommon across BIPOC communities; studies show that BIPOC individuals are less likely to have access to, receive, or complete mental health care. Why is that?

Treatment barriers are the main cause of individuals not receiving the care they need. A treatment barrier is any condition or factor that stands in the way of an individual receiving care. In the mental health field, there are multiple treatment barriers that can prevent an individual from even seeking out care, let alone receiving it. Across American communities, the percent of individuals who do not receive care due to barriers ranges from 44% to 70%.    

Check out just three treatment barriers facing BIPOC individuals seeking mental health treatment in the United States!

Mental Health Stigma

Mental health stigma, or the idea that seeking or receiving care is undesirable, is not exclusive to BIPOC communities. However, mental health stigma is especially weaponized against BIPOC individuals. One reason is that BIPOC people are jailed in disproportionately high amounts, and 50% of those jailed display symptoms of a mental health condition. This leads individuals to fear they’ll be unjustly jailed if they seek help for a mental health concern. As a result, many BIPOC communities prefer to seek out community resources, such as church, the family, or close friends, instead of telling a stranger (like a mental health clinician) about their concerns. 

Finance and Insurance Barriers

In America, 8.6% of people have no insurance coverage at all. Today, BIPOC individuals are less likely to be insured than their white counterparts. Lack of insurance drastically reduces the amount of available mental health providers in your area. If you’re in a city where the cost of living is higher, the mental health professionals may be charging a higher cash pay rate, meaning it may be out of your budget. Affordability is a major treatment barrier, especially to those with no or inadequate health insurance coverage.

Lack of Representation in the Field

86% of mental health providers currently in the workforce are white, meaning there is a severe lack of BIPOC providers in the field to provide adequate representation. While BIPOC individuals can certainly attend therapy with a white mental health clinician, not everyone may feel comfortable as the medical model has traditionally failed BIPOC communities through not providing appropriate care. Additionally, providers may not be adequately trained in working with clients outside of their own cultural group, furthering the chance for harm instead of help. 

We hope this blog helps inform you about the presence and severity of treatment barriers! We would love to talk about any hurdles you may be facing in receiving quality care. Reach out today using our contact form to learn more about our mental health services. We look forward to hearing from you!

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