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Mental health care in black America

Mental health care in black America

Picture of Leila  Day
Alyssa Kapnik Portraiture

This three-part series will be looking into mental health care disparities among black communities within the U.S. Some blame the lack of access to mental health care on limited insurance options, but another is the heavy stigma that comes along with depression. The project initially came to mind when discussing mental health care with family members who, among other reactions, viewed mental illness as a weakness or a call for attention. After reading a report from the Center for Disease Control,[1] I learned that even though African-Americans are more likely to report major depression when compared to whites, only around 7 percent of African-Americans actually sought treatment for depression compared to 13.6 percent of the general population in 2011.

My piece will investigate why depression is stigmatized within the African American community and what have been some of the approaches by clinical psychologists to treat black patients, as well as to counter this trend.  I will look into research done to support the claim that people of color have better outcomes paired with therapists of color.

The low number of practicing black psychiatrists and pychologists is a factor as to why black communities aren’t seeking mental health care treatments.  My piece will naturally study the paths of several therapists in the middle of their residencies and profile what it takes to become a black therapist in the U.S.

The third part of this series will look into the African immigrant community in the Bay Area. There are nearly 40,000 African immigrants here in the Bay Area – and while adjusting to life in the United States is a major transition, adjusting to the idea of going to psychological therapy can be a major concept to become familiar with. As the series explores how culture and history impacts how black people embrace the idea of mental health care, the third piece in this segment will look into how African immigrant communities are embracing mental health care.

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