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The Importance of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness & Treatment

BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

August 5, 2022

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July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month in America, and as the month winds down, it’s time to reflect and turn our focus towards an underserved community and come together to support and spread awareness about mental health and mental health treatment for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in America.

For many in the BIPOC community, it can be difficult to access healthcare in general and even more so for mental healthcare. More specifically, finding a BIPOC therapist who specializes in issues relating to the mental health and well-being of this community can be a sizable challenge. Fortunately, there are many resources available, even if they aren’t always known, which is why it’s so important to spread awareness during this month and always. At Handel Behavioral Health, we have many trained therapists and counselors who are dedicated to the treatment of mental health in the BIPOC community.

Importance of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness

Historically, people of color in the United States and across the world have had a lack of representation and understanding. For generations in society, media, and even in the medical field, minority groups have been underserved based on an inadequate knowledge for their unique struggles, circumstances, and health issues.

Unique Issues Affecting Mental Health in the BIPOC Community

Below are just a few of the many reasons why people in the BIPOC community struggle with seeking out, finding, and achieving mental health recovery.

  1. There are less BIPOC therapists than white therapists.
    A study conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2015 showed that about 84% of psychologists in America are white, while less than 14% combined are Black, Hispanic, and Asian. Even less than that are among the Native American/indigenous population. Because of this, people in these communities feel little, if any representation, which makes it difficult to find success in therapy and counseling. 
  2. Less economic opportunity for BIPOC communities in America.
    Paying for any healthcare in America is expensive but mental healthcare even more so because many insurance policies and companies do not offer substantial or any coverage for treating mental health. Beyond that, the economic disparity between white Americans and their minority counterparts is staggering. A 2019 survey showed that white Americans have an average net worth of over $900 thousand dollars, while black and hispanic both reported an average of less than $200 thousand dollars. Historically in America, people of color and indigenous people have faced more economic adversity than white Americans and face more obstacles in pursuing careers that are more lucrative and offer access to health benefits. With all of these obstacles, funding therapy and psychiatry is often difficult and even unattainable for many people who make up these communities. Fortunately, there are now many organizations that help provide these benefits and access to more adequate resources for mental health treatment. But as we’ve said, this is a time to reflect on the state of BIPOC mental health treatment in America and recognize there is still work to be done to ensure that all communities and people in America have access to mental healthcare.
  3. Racial tension and trauma faced in BIPOC communities.
    Because of the history of oppression and racism in the United States and across many places around the world, people of color do not always feel comfortable discussing these issues or issues related to mental health with people who they may feel do not understand or empathize with their unique experiences. Racial discrimination appears in many forms and can be incredibly traumatic. Being able to talk with a psychologist or counselor who sees the world through a similar lens is important and many times even essential for the recovery process. The ability to be open with a therapist comes from trust and often this can only be fulfilled through a mutual understanding of experiences and the world you come from and know. To achieve any success in mental health treatment, this trust and mutual respect is paramount, regardless of race and ethnicity, but it plays a larger role in communities affected by similar experiences.
  4. Stigma from community
    Aside from the external factors affecting how the BIPOC community accesses and goes through mental health treatment, there are many internal factors that shape the way therapy is viewed. In some communities there is a strong stigma against seeking psychological treatment which greatly diminishes the chances of someone seeking treatment, even if they feel it’s necessary. Sometimes mental health issues are seen as a weakness or even as an excuse, both of which typically cause these issues to become worse. In some communities who place a high value on religion feel that their higher power is the only way to treat these problems, but oftentimes a medical professional is needed to get to the root of the problem and help provide coping mechanisms and sustainable ways to overcome the issues. 

How to Find a BIPOC Therapist

The first step in overcoming any mental health issues should be turning to a professional who is qualified to help you based on your unique needs and references for treatment. Empathy and trust are two of the most important factors in any successful psychological treatment and even more so for sensitive subjects such as race and ethnicity. Finding an experienced and qualified BIPOC counselor is easy with the help of Handel Behavioral Health where many of our staff are dedicated to this sector of mental health treatment. Reach out to one of our BIPOC therapists today and start your journey to mental health recovery.