Racial Disparities and the Lack of Access to Mental Health Care in BIPOC Communities; Let's talk about therapy.

By Lisa Savage | Feb 6, 2023



As a health equity expert, it is heart-wrenching to see the stark disparities in access to mental health care in communities of color. People of color, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), have historically faced systemic barriers to accessing quality mental health services. This has led to a significant mental health crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately impacting BIPOC communities.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that only about one-third of adults with a mental illness receive treatment, even lower for people of color. BIPOC communities often face significant barriers to accessing mental health services, including lack of transportation, insurance, language barriers, and cultural stigma. These barriers are rooted in systemic racism and discrimination and have resulted in significant disparities in mental health outcomes.

Research has shown that people of color are less likely to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment for mental health conditions and are more likely to receive a misdiagnosis, leading to inadequate treatment. This disparity in mental health care affects individuals, their families, and their communities. In addition, the lack of access to mental health services can lead to a cycle of poverty, homelessness, and incarceration for many BIPOC individuals, perpetuating systemic inequalities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these disparities, as the pandemic has been a significant source of stress and trauma for many people. For example, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the pandemic has increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly among BIPOC communities. The study also found that the pandemic has resulted in a significant decrease in access to mental health services, with many individuals unable to receive treatment due to social distancing measures.


In conclusion, the racial disparities in access to mental health care and the lack of access to mental health care for BIPOC communities are significant and pressing issues that need to be addressed. Therefore, it must take action to provide access to quality mental health services for all, including BIPOC communities, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live healthy and fulfilling lives.


Lisa Savage

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