A group of four young Black women collaborating around a table. Mental health and recovery resources for BIPOC

Mental Health and Recovery Resources for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

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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

Black and people of color resources

Native/Indigenous resources

Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander resources

Lantinx/Hispanic resources

LGBTQIA+ resources

  • 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.
  • LGBTQ Psychotherapists of Color – a San Francisco/Bay Area grassroots, volunteer-led group providing support, networking, leadership development, and community building opportunities for LGBTQs of Color in Psychology, Social Work, and Counseling. 

Last, don’t forget that July is BIPOC Mental Health Month. Find out more here

Olivia Pennelle is a writer, journalist, and recovery activist. Her work has appeared in STAT News, Insider, Filter Magazine, Ravishly, The Temper, and Shondaland. She is the founder of popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen. She lives near Portland, Oregon. Follow her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter

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