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Minority mental health treatment rates rise

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Only 43% of adults with mental illness actually get treatment for it, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Compared to previous years, that’s actually an improvement.

However, research shows Asian-Americans are least likely to get mental health services. But no matter the rates, officials say minorities across the board often skip out on mental health care. Some of that, of course, is by choice; some is also attributed to limited access.

When you think of overall health, experts say, don’t neglect your mental health. According to data, quite a few people do it.

“We’re still, as minority as we are, still behind across all minority groups,” said Barbara Thompson with NAMI Indiana. “It could be seen as a weakness. It can be seen as a luxury illness. You can also be seen as something that can bring a bad name on the family.”

Thompson said there’s been some improvement but stigma is the main reason many don’t seek treatment.

“There’s cultural stigma there, self-stigma, that we put on our own selves. So we come from different areas,” Thompson said.

When you look at the people with mental illness, the percentage of people who actually get treatment is low. Only 25% of Asian adults get treatment, about 31% of black adults and about 49% of white adults.

“I think we’ve done a good job of fostering the conversation, which can reduce some of the stigma and start to normalize the fact that these services are available and should be utilized.”

Elizabeth White founded The Well Counseling Group. She said, in some communities, religion has played a part in the stigma, but she says there’s a shift happening there.

“As a community we have grown regarding what we think about this subject matter, and I always tell my clients that I have Jesus and a therapist at the same time I think they can work in conjunction,” White said.

Experts say coronavirus is likely adding more mental pressure, but this is a unique time as mental health services can be accessed online.

“For those people who don’t want to be seen in a waiting room, there’s a virtual waiting room,” White said.

Although this is Minority Health Month, Minority Mental Health month starts in July.