Some mental health disorders disproportionately impact people of color, especially among substance use disorders.
Despite these disparities, mental health resources are not always centered towards people of color and their needs. In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting specific Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) resources that provide mental health support, as well as calling attention to some of the healthcare disparities that people of color face.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, is held every February. Its purpose is to recognize the role Black people played in American History. As we recently alluded to in our blog, 10 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month, Black History Month was the brainchild of historian Carter G Woodson. He chose the month of February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass – the first prominent Black person in recovery.
Woodson created an organization dedicated to the achievements of Black individuals. This inspired communities nationwide to host celebrations, performances, lectures, and even host history clubs to increase awareness about Black history.
You can read more about Black History Month here and Black individuals who have made significant contributions to the addiction recovery community here.
How mental health impacts BIPOC
The National Council for Behavioral Health reports that Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than white people. However, Black individuals are also less likely to seek out treatment, and end treatment prematurely. This is also the case with Native/Indigenous individuals, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino individuals.
Mental Health America shows that among Native/Indigenous people, they are two and a half times more likely to report psychological distress than the general population. SAMHSA states that American-born Hispanic and Latino individuals report higher rates for most psychiatric disorders and are less likely to receive mental health services.
Those disparities continue in all areas of mental health. Studies have shown:
- Black and Latino individuals are far less likely than White people to complete outpatient treatment and residential addiction treatment.
- Access to mental health services is severely limited in some Native/Indigenous communities, meaning treatment has to be sought outside of tribal areas.
- Hispanic children and adolescents are at significant risk for mental health problems.
- Black Americans often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally-competent care.
- Rates of mood disorders among Asian and Pacific Islander population was higher than any other group.
- Mental health service access is troublingly low Among Asian Americans
- Compared to White individuals, Black people are less likely to be offered evidence-based medication therapy of psychotherapy.
- Hispanics are less likely to access evidence-based, culturally grounded treatment options due to the limited availability of these services.
- Only 1 in 3 Black Americans who need mental healthcare receives it.
- White individuals are 35 times more likely to be prescribed medication-assisted treatment than Black people, despite death rates among people of color rising faster.
- Only 1 in 20 Hispanics receive services from a mental health specialist.
- People of color are more likely than White individuals to face criminal justice and receive harsher punishments
The main reasons why people of color are hesitant to receive help is due in part to the long history of racism in America and the distrust of medical professionals, limited information, and lack of competent care. There is also a significant stigma related to mental illness and seeking help, which can also dissuade individuals from seeking help.
That is why it is critical for healthcare professionals to provide inclusive and culturally-specific resources for people of color that build trust, provide reliable and competent care, addresses discrimination, and dismantles barriers to care like stigma and accessibility.
That need is greater now than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought heightened attention to the specific stressors faced by BIPOC communities, who may be experiencing greater emotional distress at this time.
BIPOC mental health resources
We’ve provided a list of mental health resources for BIPOC —some general resources and some ethnicity-specific. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does capture a number of organizations that provide mental health support that is accessible.
BIPOC Addiction resources
- BIPOC-Only Recovery Dharma – Buddhist inspired recovery group for BIPOC
- Black Behavioral Health Equity – information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- White Bison/Wellbriety Movement – a Native/Indigenous recovery organization
- Wellbriety Community – Facebook community for Wellbriety members
- Native American Rehabilitation Association
- Hispanic/Latino – information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on programs and initiatives seeking to provide mental health resources and information, with materials and treatment locator information available Spanish.
Black and people of color resources
- Melanin & Mental Health – a directory of Black therapists and a podcast for between sessions.
- African Americans, Anxiety and Depression Association of America – information on choosing providers and articles about how to overcome obstacles and the link between racism and stress facing Black Americans.
- Open Path Psychotherapy Collective – a non-profit network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing mental health care, at a significantly reduced rate, to people in need.
- Brown Girl Therapy – Instagram page for brown women, especially South Asian women
- Black Mental Health Alliance – nonprofit organization that provides a meaningful and engaging program for Black people to facilitate healing individually and as a community.
- Therapy for Black Men Directory.
- The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation – this foundation works to increase access to mental healthcare, decrease stigma, and provides a list of culturally-sensitive Black-centered resources.
- Decolonizing Therapy – founded by Dr. Jennifer Mullan, who seeks to create spaces for people and organizations to heal. She believes that it is essential to create a dialogue to address how mental health is deeply affected by systemic inequities and the trauma of oppression, particularly the well-being of Queer Indigenous Black Brown People of Color (QIBPOC).
- Sista Afya – offers virtual support groups for Black women to collectively process trauma
- Black Emotional and Mental health Virtual Therapist Network – A collective of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities.
- Zencare – directory and resources to find a Black therapist.
- Therapists offering reduced-fee therapy
- My Tru Circle – directory of therapists of color.
- Loveland Therapy Fund – led by activist, academic, and writer Rachel Cargle, this non-profit seeks to reduce the cost of therapy for Black women and girls.
- The Nap Ministry – activist and photographer Tricia Hersey founded the project with the goal of “Rest as Resistance.”
- Find a Multicultural Therapist – a psychotherapy directory providing a range of therapy for people of different cultural backgrounds to encourage cultural competency when finding a therapist.
- Black Therapist Podcast – discussions about mental healthcare
- Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (Covers OR, WA, and IA) – Seeks to eliminate health disparities and improve the quality of life Northwest Indigenous individuals
- One Sky Center – resources for Indigenous communities.
- We R Native – health information, contests, and grants for indigenous youth.
Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander resources
- Each Mind Matters – Asian and Pacific Islander-specific mental health resources.
- Asian Mental Health Project – aims to educate and empower Asian communities in accessing mental healthcare.
- The Asian American Drug Abuse Program – a nonprofit organization serving Asian Pacific Islanders and underserved communities with addiction treatment services
- South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network – a non-profit that addresses the mental health needs of the South Asian in America. Their goal is to decrease the stigma and shame associated with mental illness and offer resources for people who seek help.
- Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American Therapist Network – Therapist directory.
- Latino Service Providers – mental health resources for the Latino community.
- Mental Health America’s – Resources for Lantinx/Hispanic communities.
- Rest for Resistance – a webzine and support group that centers on mental health and support for queer and trans people of color.
- QTPoC Mental Health Practitioner Directory – an interactive directory that helps QTPoC locate QTPoC mental health practitioners nationwide.
Last, don’t forget that July is BIPOC Mental Health Month. Find out more here.