Mental are unwilling to socialize with someone who has

Mental
Illness: The Racial and Ethnic Differences

            Mental illness has become a bigger conversation in recent
years thanks to technology and the seemingly increasing rates of people who
have depression and anxiety. Although, there is less stigma now than in
previous years and more discussion on being mentally ill, there are still other
issues that need to be addressed. Mental illness in America cannot just be
viewed as a collective issue. It must be examined through every perspective, so
a better understanding is gained about the complexities of it. It’s become apparent the way
mental illness is recognized and whether or not people get treatment is affected
by their racial and ethnic background. The consequence of this is that people are letting their
views effect how they see others with mental illnesses as well as not receiving
the help that they need. Furthermore, the current mental health care services
provided in America also need to improve in accessibility
and affordability, in order to advance the process of erasing the
stigma around mental illness and creating healthier communities of people.

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One
of the results of stigmatization of mental illnesses, is the general public’s
avoidance of people with mental illnesses. When it comes to interacting with
someone who has a mental illness, “About one in five people in California are unwilling
to socialize with someone who has symptoms of depression or schizophrenia, and
this is the same across all major racial/ethnic groups.” (CITE) This statistic from
the study “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Mental Illness Stigma in
California” is revealing of the differential treatment that those with mental
illnesses face. The study just mentioned is based on results from the
California well-being survey which tracks
mental illness stigma, discrimination and the mental health state among Californians. Only a small number
of studies have examined whether mental illness is more highly stigmatized in
racial/ethnic minority communities. Past studies have found to be unreliable
because the results are either mixed, or there isn’t enough representation for
the Latino and Asian American population or the study is only looking at the
stereotypical beliefs associated with mental illnesses. (CITE) Since California
is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse state in America, the “Racial
and Ethnic Differences in Mental Illness Stigma in California” study claims to
be more representative than earlier studies because of the inclusion of Latinos
and Asian Americans along with the ability for participants to answer survey
questions in their chosen language. This survey looked at around 2,568
California adults composed of Whites, African Americans, Latinos, Asian
Americans, and multi-racial people. It asked questions about the social
distance preferred between themselves and someone with a mental illness. Participants
responded to three different contact situations involving someone with depression,
schizophrenia, and PTSD and how they’d feel either moving next door, spending
an evening socializing, and working closely with them. The conclusive results
of this research found that in California, whites are the least stigmatizing of
people experiencing mental illness symptoms. African Americans and Latinos follow
closely to whites with slightly higher rates, and Asian Americans express the
highest rates of stigmatization. Some interesting data also found Latinos who took
the survey in Spanish were less willing to socialize with, but more willing to
work with, people experiencing symptoms than Latinos who took the survey in
English. Overall, the racial/ethnic groups were not statistically
distinguishable from one another in their responses to socializing with someone
experiencing symptoms of depression or schizophrenia, however, they varied much
more in their responses to PTSD. Because various racial/ethnic groups respond
differently to certain symptom sets depending on the specific social situation involved
it’s obvious there are possible underlying factors contributing to the views of
stigma and discrimination that may offer an explanation as to why findings on
racial/ethnic differences have been inconsistent across prior studies. (CITE)

“Racial
and Ethnic Differences in Mental Illness Stigma and Discrimination Among
Californians Experiencing Mental Health Challenges” was yet another study done by
the same research group and on the same subject. In this study, instead of
focusing solely on social distance it went more in-depth looking at people with
mental illnesses themselves and their own self-stigma while also examining, recovery
beliefs, self-recognition of mental health problems, and mental health service use
and treatment attitudes. The study ultimately found, African-Americans
and Whites are alike in various indicators of mental illness stigma and
discrimination. According to researchers of this study, this finding is also consistent
with prior studies involving population-based samples of African Americans and
Whites. Although, African Americans and Whites are similar in most aspects, African
Americans were still significantly more likely to report experiencing a mental
health problem in the past 12 months than Whites. Regarding Latinos, Latinos held more negative views of mental illness.
The patterns were more complex for Latinos because of the language factor. The more acculturated Latinos, who
took the survey in English, appear to experience higher levels of self-stigma
than their less acculturated counterparts, who also expressed more positive
attitudes toward treatment than whites. Latinos surveyed in English, experienced
reported higher levels of self-stigma and
were more likely to conceal a mental health problem from coworkers or classmates
than whites. While it was the opposite for Latinos interviewed in Spanish. Less
acculturated Latinos seemed to experience lower levels of self-stigma, were less likely to delay treatment or hide a mental
health problem from coworkers and classmates and were more likely to report
intentions to obtain treatment if needed. Latinos surveyed in Spanish also perceived
the public as being as more caring and sympathetic toward individuals with
mental illness at a higher rate than whites. At the
same time, Latinos surveyed in Spanish were still very likely than whites to
doubt that individuals with mental health problems could be contributing
members of society. Still, the recognition of a mental health problem and the
use of mental health services were lowest among Latinos surveyed in Spanish. The study further
concluded that Asian-Americans consistently had the highest rates in feeling alienated, feeling inferior to
others who have not had a mental health problem, and believing people with mental
illnesses will never contribute to society. Though, Asian Americans were also
the least likely group to report having a mental illness in the last year. In general, almost all partakers
said that they would obtain mental health treatment if needed, yet the unmet
need for mental health treatment continues to the number one public health
issue. Among survey respondents under serious distress, more than a third of
African Americans and Latinos surveyed in English had not obtained treatment.
Rates were even higher for Asian-Americans and Latinos surveyed in Spanish. Clearly,
despite what participants said, they still weren’t reaching out for the help
they needed.

The
“Racial/Ethnic Differences in Mental Health Service Use among Adults” was a
study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to
look at the use of mental health services across groups of people. The study compiled
information from 2008 until 2012. This research found that in 2012, the highest
mental health service use came from adults reporting two or more races at about
17%, white adults right below at 16%, then American Indian or Alaska Native
adults at about 15%, followed by Black., Hispanic, and Asian adults. These
statistics are consistent with the results from the previous stated studies
that showed Hispanic/Latino and Asian American populations being the lowest receiving
treatment for mental illnesses. The estimate of past year use of any mental
health services was higher among white adults than Black or Hispanic adults.
Similarly, estimates of prescription psychiatric medication use and outpatient
mental health service use were higher among white adults than among black or
Hispanic adults. However, inpatient mental health service use was more
prevalent among Black adults compared with inpatient white adults. There is a persistent
trend in white adults receiving the most treatment, the most to be prescribed medication,
and outpatient care. The most likely explanation behind these figures is Whites
overall lower levels of stigmas across the board. (CITE) When participants were
asked why they either delayed or put off getting treatment for their mental
illness, service cost and lack of insurance coverage was one of the top reasons
for not using mental health services across all racial/ethnic groups. The
belief that use of mental health services would not help was the least often
cited reason for not using mental health services across all racial/ ethnic
groups. While attitudes about mental health are important, it seems an even greater
obstacle Americans face is affordability and accessibility.

America’s current mental
health service isn’t the worst, but it also isn’t the best. The biggest barriers to better
mental health care are inadequate insurance, lack of available treatment
providers, lack of variety in available treatment, and insufficient finances to
cover costs insurance will not or when providers don’t take insurance. State
and local governments have the biggest roles in implementing the right mental
health services for the public. States that’ve passed laws supporting
implementation of mental health laws and the Affordable Care Act showed
improvements in access to insurance rates. The implementation of The Mental
Health Services Act in California also resulted in substantial changes in
access to care. (CITE)

In
summary, there are strong discrepancies in each racial and ethnic group when
looking at the mental health stigmas and discrimination they face. The cultural
contributors to these differences seems to the biggest reason why people self-stigmatize,
stigmatize others, and don’t receive help. Though this is the reality of mental
health in America, it was not only take more awareness and open conversations about
mental illnesses but also reform in laws and bills concerning the expenses and access
to mental health care services

 

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