African Americans Perceptions of Mental Health and the Implications for Health Service Delivery
As discussed in class, little advancement has been made in the field of mental health care over the past two decades. Rates of mental illness continue to be high especially among certain subgroups, but progress has been stunted by stigma and social environmental issues. Mental health disparities, like many other health disparities, are embedded within a trend of socioeconomic differences (Miranda, McGuire, Williams, & Wang, 2008). Racial and class disparities exist among those afflicted …show more content…
Fear of embarrassment
The feeling of embarrassment is a significant barrier to African Americans who consider seeking mental health services (Snowden, 2001). This is another deterrent that affects African Americans to a greater degree than Whites (Snowden, 2001). In a study by Alvidrez (2008), 29% of respondents described mental illness as being described, discussed and handled as a very inappropriate subject in their family (Alvidrez et al., 2008). One subject’s response clearly indicated the stigmatization involved: “It’s not even really called mental health, it’s like a “crazy home”, and when you think of “mental health”, you see the most severe case…that’s what mental health is thought of. It’s not anxiety or depression, or anything—bipolar, it’s just, just crazy” (Alvidrez et al., 2008). After growing up with such beliefs, it is hard to not face some type of reluctance when recognizing that you may need help. Fears of social rejection, discrimination, ridicule and gossip are some of the most often cited concerns (Alvidrez et al., 2008).
Negative views towards treatment
African Americans are obliged to seek support in troubling times, but this is expected to come from family members and community members (Snowden, 2001). They believe that help should come in the form of indirect ways such as through reassurance, companionship, and advice, not mental health terms. Alvidrez (2008) found that “seeking mental health treatment was viewed as inappropriate because it