Association News
Breaking Down Barriers to Care
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 17 page 5-5

In September 2001 then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., issued the report "Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity," which identifies barriers to effective mental health care faced by racial and ethnic minority populations (Psychiatric News, October 5, 2001). Here are key recommendations from that report:

Continue to expand the science base of mental illness. Work to resolve uncertainties about the extent of mental illness among different racial and ethnic groups. Examine how factors such as acculturation, stigma, racism, and spirituality provide protection from, or risk for, mental illness.

Improve access to treatment. Bring mental health services to where people are. Integrate mental health care and primary care. Improve language access. Coordinate care to vulnerable, high-need groups.

Reduce barriers to mental health care. Work to make services appropriate for minorities and promote mental health coverage for uninsured Americans. Establish parity between mental health insurance coverage and other health care coverage.

Improve the quality of mental health care. Individualize treatment in the clinical setting to each patient’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, and culture. Continue research on "culturally competent" service models.

Support capacity development. Develop training programs and funding sources that expand the number of minorities among mental health professionals, researchers, administrators, and policymakers.

Promote mental health. Work to reduce adverse conditions such as poverty and racism. Build on community strengths such as spirituality, ethnic identity, traditional values, and local leadership.

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