American Indian/Alaska Native
There are 3.7 million people who identify as American Indian/Alaska Natives, and 5.9 million who identify as a combination of American Indian/Alaska Native. It is estimated that 18.7% experienced a mental health condition within the last year, which equates to approximately, 1.8 million people. One of the biggest barriers that American Indian/Alaska Native’s face when it comes to mental health is access to culturally competent care. Indigenous people have fundamentally different beliefs of human psychology and spirituality that are different from the western medical model. To better support American Indian/Alaska Native communities, MHA highlights the need to fund and encourage diverse recruitment and training of culturally competent mental health practitioners.
Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim/South Asian (AMEMSA)
There are an estimated 10+ million Americans whose heritage is Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim/South Asian (AMEMSA). One of the biggest challenges in supporting AMEMSA Americans, is that there is little information available since demographic data for this population is not included in the U.S. Census. MHA stresses the need to include AMEMSA categorization in data collection, as well as the need to fund community-based organization and experts to bring more understanding of the needs and policy issues surrounding AMEMSA. In addition, culturally competent approaches need to be developed and applied to support the mental health needs of the AMEMSA community.
There are approximately 22.9 million Asian/Pacific Americans living in the United States, with an estimated 2.9 million living with a mental health condition. Access to mental health services is one of the largest challenges, along with health education, and language barriers. Another important consideration for this group includes the cultural beliefs and stigma of mental illness, where it is often seen as a weakness and character flaw. This can result in secrecy about symptoms and/or denial of symptoms. Another important factor to consider is that over the last two years, hate crimes and fear of violence due to COVID-19 has had a direct impact on Asian/Pacific Americans. To better serve the mental health of Asian/Pacific American’s, funding needs to be allocated to identify and support culturally responsive education and programs. In addition, cultural competency needs to be developed in order to gain a deeper understanding of specific cultures within the Asian/ Pacific Americans so that we can minimize generalizations, and acknowledge biases related to the perpetual foreigner stereotype myth.
There are nearly 45 million Americans who identify as Black, and 3.1 million who identify a combination of Black with another race. Approximately 7 million Black and African Americans are living with a mental health condition. Historically Black and African Americans have unjustly been characterized by violence, trauma, and racism and the effects are still pervasive. Black adults are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress (i.e., feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness) and are less likely to receive mental health services. For example, less than half of Black and Americans adults with serious mental illness (SMI) receive treatment, and even fewer with a substance use disorder receive treatment. There are two main reasons for lack of treatment – access to care, and racism and bias within the health care system. Black Americans are offered medication and therapy less often when compared to the general population, and those diagnosed with psychosis are more likely to go to jail or prison than people of other races. To address these barriers, the following actions are outlined by MHA. They include identify protective factors and community supports that can be a part of treatment plans, recruit and fund a culturally responsive mental health workforce, advocate for culturally responsive systems including education, healthcare, and the justice system.
The LatinX/Hispanic Heritage population is the largest BIPOC community, with over 61 million people living in America, and roughly 10 million living with a mental health condition. The LatinX/Hispanic Heritage population faces a complex picture when it comes to mental health. They experience generational trauma due to the effects of mass genocides, threats of violence, colonization, immigration, and xenophobia. In addition, they experience stereotyping and biases regularly. Access to care, culturally relevant health education, language barriers, and financial instability all impact both physical and mental health. Lastly, anyone who is undocumented does not have health insurance and fears deportation which can cause enormous stress and inaccessible support. To support the LatinX/Hispanic community, MHA argues that we need to fund continuing education opportunities about LatinX/Hispanic communities, recruit LatinX/Hispanic practitioners, identify and include community support resources (i.e., faith, arts, and family) into care, and advocate for laws and policies (i.e., fair wages, affordable housing, immigration support, and other social services) that will support the LatinX/Hispanic community.
Multiracial Heritage (a person who identifies as two or more races) is the fastest-growing demographic in America. Multiracial Americans often experience assumptions about which race they are, assumptions on how they ‘should’ act, and microaggressions (i.e., “What are you?”. A person who is multiracial may experience challenges with identity, feelings of belonging uncertainty, and inadequacy. There continues to be a lack of data, research, and resources for Multiracial Americans. To better support Multiracial Americans, practitioners need to explore nuances of multiracial identities and provide person-centered care that includes multiracial resources and community supports. In addition, screening tools, data collection, and research need to be developed to better understand the needs of this population.