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 by mental health issues whereas minorities and lower income individuals have higher rates (Miranda et al., 2008). Therefore, in this paper I will discuss the adverse effects of social and environmental factors on the mental health of African Americans and mental health service utilization among this population. I posit that individual convictions amplify the more obvious institutional and economical barriers to access. Disparate Rates of Negative Social and Environmental Factors among African Americans and the Connection to Mental Health
Nearly 22% of African Americans live in poverty (Miranda et al., 2008) and simultaneously experience overrepresentation in homeless populations, incarceration, foster care, victims of violent crimes, and child welfare systems (APA, 2012). Poverty level affects mental health status (Office of Minority Health [OMH], 2012). Living under these stressful conditions, African Americans suffer disparate mental health outcomes (Miranda et al., 2008). African Americans living in poverty are three times more likely than African Americans twice above the poverty level to report psychological stress (OMH, 2012). In general African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological...