Mental Health Issues Related To Race/Ethnicity And The Poor
Does living in poverty increase the risks of mental illness? Is there a difference between race/ethnicity among the poor and those seeking mental health services? Racial/ethnic disparities in mental health issues have received an increase in attention. Recent studies indicate that people with mental illness and members of minority racial/ethnic populations are disproportionately concentrated in high poverty areas (Chung-Chung Chow, Jaffee & Snowdwn, 2003). Previous studies have indicated that African Americans with mental illness do not seek mental health services (Schnittker, 2000). Several reasons are the lack of mental health services in poverty areas and the mistrust of White physicians. However, the research article used for this research review indicates the opposite. According to Diala (2001), African Americans are more likely to accept and seek mental health issues than Whites. Costello, Keeler and Angold (2001) compared Black and White children living in poverty and those living in non-poor areas. White children living in poverty had more emotional disorders, particularly depression, more oppositional defiant disorders and conduct disorders than African American children.
The use of mental health services by a community is applicable to community nursing. A part of nursing is education and it appears there needs to be more mental health education available in high poverty areas. Public awareness is the key to getting information out to those who do not know where to get help. Child services are needed in high poverty areas, because children are vulnerable to mental health problems due to living in poor conditions and high levels of violence in their neighborhoods, they experience chronic distress symptoms and behavioral problems (Chun-Chung Chow et.al., 2001). Nurses can help organize and set up programs to encourage those living in high poverty areas to seek mental health services. The research article by Chun-Chung Chow et.al. (2001) mentions several important implications that can be used. First, mental health services should be tailored to meet the needs of minorities within different community settings. Second, the community needs to minimize disparities in service access and use. Finally, priority should be given to programs that specifically target minorities and immigrant children. Nurses can help in all these areas through practice, education and research. Research article one
The research article titled, Racial/Ethnic Disparities in the Use of Mental Health Services in Poverty Areas, examines racial/ethnic disparities in mental health service access and their use in different poverty areas. The researchers looked at the Surgeon General reports on mental health, other literature reviews on this subject, recent studies, safety-net providers, public hospitals, and mental health centers as the base of their study. Chun-Chung Chow et.al. (2003) state that “another reason that racial disparities between minorities and Whites may be less within high-poverty neighborhoods than elsewhere is predicted by social selection theory”. This theory assumes that Whites have a greater tendency to avoid living in poverty communities because they are more likely to enjoy social and economic advantages. The quantitative design of this study was to see how racial/ethnic disparities correlate with the use of mental health services in poverty areas by collecting statistical data. Extraneous variables were used within the study such as: a survey conducted by the New York Office of Mental Health, which included demographic (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age), clinical (primary diagnosis), and service use information (insurance status, prior services, type of service received, and referral source) on each client visit over a seven day period during autumn 1995. Also, data used from the 1990 US Census of Population and Housing was used as an indicator of...
References: Chun-Chung Chow, J., Jaffee, K., & Snowden, L. (2003). Racial/ethnic disparities in the use of mental health services in poverty areas. American Journal of Public Health, 93(5), 792-797.
Costello, E., Keeler, G., Angold, A. (2001). Poverty, race/ethnicity, and psychiatric disorder: a study of rural children. American Journal of Public Health, 91(9), 1494-1498.
Diala, C., Mutaner, C., Walrath, C., Nickerson, K., LaVeist, T., & Leaf, P. (2001). Racial/ethnic differences in attitudes toward seeking professional mental health services. American Journal of Public Health, 91(5), 805-807.
Schnittker, J. (2000). Nature, nurture, neither, nor: Black-White differences in beliefs about the causes and appropriate treatment of mental illness. Social Forces: Vol. 78, 1100-1134. Department of Sociology, Indiana University.
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