Research Confirms Racial Inequities in Mental Health Treatments

The Lund Report, Jan 6, 2016
by CPSE Secretary [Center for Public Safety Excellence]

  • Asian Americans were 51% less likely than Whites to access mental health services.
  • Experiences of racism were associated with lower emotional well-being.
  • Stronger levels of ethnic identification were associated with higher overall well-being.
  • Racial issues impact the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
  • Public payment for health services eliminated racial inequities for economically disadvantaged individuals.

Millions of Americans suffer from mental illness. Many seek therapy, but racial background influences availability and quality of treatment.  In 1999 and 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office issued reports highlighting racial inequities: Racial minorities have less access to mental health services than Whites.

A new summary of research representing over 4.7 million individuals has provided data on the severity of the racial inequities: Asian Americans were less than half as likely as Whites to use mental health services, Hispanic/Latino(a) Americans were 25% less likely, and African Americans were 21% less likely.  In a finding that is particularly troubling, African Americans suffering from mental illness were found in mental health services less often when they most needed help.