July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, but mental health disparities exist all year. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, minority communities are less likely to seek mental health care. These disparities exist for many reasons, from systemic barriers to cultural stigmas. Without support, many people find themselves lost with limited options. People may seek support from emergency services. This often leads to poor outcomes and widened disparities.
There is hope. There are many agencies that help communities access quality care. As more services move online, more people can access mental health resources. Let’s explore what’s available.
Healthcare costs remain one of the largest barriers to care in the US. According to the Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, minority communities feel this the most. If you need mental health support, it is okay to reach out. Below are some options to explore with or without insurance.
Resources for communities
National resources: There are many agencies that focus on mental health equity. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) provides lists of local mental health service providers. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provides lists of providers based on location.
Local Department of Health (DHS): Your local DHS may offer services specific to your community. Some have free or reduced-cost counseling. Call or visit your local DHS to find the resources they may offer.
Medicare and Medicaid: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has many online tools to help provide fair access to care. Users can use the CMS website to locate providers. The website also helps people find answers to important financial questions.
Resources for individuals
Primary Care Physician: Primary Care Physicians (PCP) may not offer counseling themselves (though some may!), but they might offer referrals to mental health experts. If you have a PCP and would like mental health treatment, ask them for information.
Telemedicine for mental health: Today, many services are available online. Patients can talk with mental health specialists over the phone or in a video call. You can schedule a telehealth visit for both mental health and physical health. If you decide to seek care using telemedicine, here are some tips to help you prepare.
Mental health is important for people of all backgrounds. It is important to seek help from an expert if you need help. In the meantime, explore these tips to help you manage your day-to-day stress.
Build a support system: A support system can be your family, close friends, or people you trust. If you find yourself struggling, remember that you don’t have to struggle alone. Your support system may even include your therapist or your best friend.
Join a community: Joining a community can help you find a sense of belonging. Your friends in this community can be in your support system. Volunteer, or find people with similar interests or hobbies. Many people find community through their religious group.
Keep healthy habits: Keeping a consistent routine can help you manage your mental well-being. Your body and your mind are closely linked. You can improve your mental health by creating healthy habits. Try to get enough sleep each night, eat a balanced diet, and exercise. This may not be enough to solve every problem, but it can help lift your mood and foster hope.
The term “mental health” includes a variety of conditions and challenges. We are all human. It is normal to need help. Taking steps for yourself and your community can encourage others to seek help.