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Communities of Color Face Greater Challenges Finding Effective Therapy, National Survey Finds

Survey on Mood Disorders Shows Hispanic and Asian American Individuals Who Seek Therapy Face Lack of Cultural Competence Among Providers and Language Barriers

Oct 05 2021
 

Arlington, VA — Experiencing a mood disorder presents significantly greater challenges for people of color, especially Hispanic and Asian American people, according to new analysis of national survey data out today. The 2021 Mood Disorder Survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) from April 13 through May 10.

“Our survey provides an important snapshot of how different communities are faring during this pandemic,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “While racial disparities exist across all communities, our survey found that Hispanic and Asian American individuals are facing more significant struggles, including a lack of cultural competency among health care professionals. This is of great concern and needs to be remedied.”

The survey sought to better understand the impact of mood disorders, which include common mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and other kinds of depression. The survey included three audiences: those who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, caregivers to those who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder and those with no experience with mood disorders.

Symptoms Not Well-Managed: Among those with mood disorders, Asian (19%) and Hispanic (18%) people were more likely to report their mental health as “poor” compared to Black (9%) Americans and white (15%) Americans.

Difficulty Accessing Treatment: The struggle to get treatment and support was greatest for Hispanic people in particular — 70% reported that there had been a time in their life when they wanted mental health treatment but did not receive it, compared to 58% of Black people, 55% of Asian people and 54% of white people.

Greater Stigma: People of color (77%) also reported experiencing greater difficulty opening up to others about their mood disorder compared to white (69%) people, with Hispanic (78%) people reporting the greatest difficulty.

“Earlier research has identified a number of factors associated with culture-based differences, including language barriers and other cultural differences in how people relate to and talk about their subjective experiences,” said NAMI Chief Medical Officer Ken Duckworth, M.D. “Our survey shows we need to continue to work toward greater openness in discussing mental health and increased access to care for all who may benefit from it.”

Additional information about the mood-disorder survey and our methodology — which includes a broader focus on cost, access and other barriers to care, as well as widely held misperceptions about mood disorders — is available on the NAMI website.

Download NAMI's infographic: "Break the Silence on Mood Disorders — Countering Stigma & Cultural Barriers with Openness & Understanding."