Providing Culturally-Informed Behavioral Healthcare for BIPOC Children and Families

According to Mental Health America (MHA), Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are more likely to screen positive or at-risk for alcohol and substance abuse disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and psychosis. Barriers to accessing quality mental healthcare in BIPOC communities can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as cultural stigma around mental illness, systemic racism and discrimination, language barriers, mistrust of mental health care providers, and a lack of cultural competency on the part of mental health care providers.   

Additionally, MHA reports that: 

  • Of the 18.3% of the U.S. population estimated to be Latino or Hispanic, of those, over 16% reported having a mental illness in the past year. 
  • Of the 13.4% of the U.S. population who identify as Black or African American, of those, over 16% reported having a mental illness in the past year. 
  • Of the 1.3% of the U.S. population that identifies as Native American or Alaskan Native, of those, over 19% reported having a mental illness in the past year. 

At One Hope United, our Case Managers, Youth Care Workers, and Therapists are committed to providing culturally informed, holistic care for thousands of BIPOC children, youth, and families each year. 

Throughout her 30-year career, Jana Grooms, Clinical Director of Placement Services, has seen bias and stigma persist in BIPOC communities around seeking behavioral healthcare. Jana said, “We can’t expect to engage clients in services successfully without building trust and conducting research to ensure our teams understand any cultural differences or biases they may carry into their work subconsciously.” 

Jana also acknowledged that historical patterns and generational trauma contribute to mistrust when it comes to behavioral healthcare. In recent years, she has seen leaders in the child welfare sector conduct more training around cultural competency and cultural differences that may exist between white caseworkers and BIPOC clients. For example, Jana has seen that many Hispanic families want to be very involved with their child’s behavioral health treatment and may not understand why they can’t sit in on their child’s therapy session, because traditionally in Hispanic cultures, families are very tight-knit and view each member of the family as a component of the whole. In her work with Black clients, Jana has seen generational trauma and systemic racism in healthcare negatively impact clients’ mental health and decrease their trust and willingness to participate in services.

“We will continue to work to decrease stigma around behavioral health treatment, and ensure the communities we serve have access to quality programs and services,” Jana concluded.

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