Cultural Background and Barriers to Mental Health Care for African American Adults

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Cultural Background and Barriers to Mental Healt Care for African Americans

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African Americans face many barriers to mental health care in the United States. Mental health conditions, such as depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can affect patients’ occupational and social functioning if they remain undiagnosed and untreated. Clinicians must understand the historical abuses of African Americans by the psychiatric field and how they may influence current barriers to care, such as patients’ attitudes of mistrust or fear of treatment. Disparities in income and health insurance may also hinder access to mental health care. Health care providers must be alert for symptoms of mental health disorders in their adult patients and guard against biases that could affect their diagnosis or treatment practices. By incorporating strategies to target barriers to care and increasing their cultural competence, clinicians can help amend the disparities in mental health care for African American patients.

From the Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and the Adult Developmental Disorders Section, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia (Dr Rostain); Department of Psychiatry and the Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia (Dr Ramsay); and the Department of Nursing, Assistant Dean of Academic Integration and Evaluation of Community Programs, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr Waite).

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(3):279–283

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.13008co5c