It’s a known fact that Black and Latinx people experience a health disparity in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the mistrust and lack of resources these communities faced as they had a high number of fatal casualties from the virus, a number disproportionate to that of the general population. But another thing the pandemic exposed and brought to the public attention is the mental health challenge many Black and Latinx people face, how uninformed they were, and the lack of help they had to combat this crisis. 

Black Women Organized for Political Action(BWOPA) and the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) did a poll to see how Black and Latinx people feel about healthcare and the report highlights the lack of resources they have around those communities.

“Our research draws a direct line between the challenges in accessing mental health care for Latinas and Black women to the shortage of mental health professionals that share our backgrounds,” said Helen Torres, CEO of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality. “The data is a call to action for healthcare providers and educational institutions to address the negative impacts of a healthcare workforce that do not represent the communities it serves. We must take steps to close the representation gap and provide better care to all.” 

The California Equity in Mental Health surveyed 800 Black and Latina women about their level of access to mental health services, their preference for providers, and their priorities for approaches to create greater equity in mental health care.  

The study uncovers that Black Americans and Latinx people are twice as likely to experience mental health issues than other ethnicities. It also shows that added factors such as White supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant, and hate crimes play a role in the instability of their mental health. 

Angela Ocampo of HOPE also noted the current social and economic climate crisis as another factor. 

“Over 34% of Black women and Latinas cite finances, safety, and housing as top concerns in some of their households, making their day-to-day lives a little unbearable.”  Ocampo also explained that 77% of Black or Latina women experience discrimination in the medical world and day-to-day life because of their race or ethnicity. 

Shakari Byerly, managing partner and principal researcher at Evitarus, also agrees that discrimination plays a role in why many Black and Brown people avoid going to mental facilities for aid. 

“More than 62% of Black and Latina women had mental health concerns but have not sought help. Many cite difficulty in finding a counselor, therapist, or mental healthcare provider who they can relate to or from a similar background.”  Byerly said. 

The survey also revealed that many of these women fear being misdiagnosed; or suffer breaches of privacy or mistreatment by providers. Byerly shared that 90% of women without medical coverage for mental health report untreated needs; 73% of Generation Z/millennials have reported untreated mental health needs when visiting a provider, and 68% of women covered through Medi-Cal report untreated needs. 

Women who took the survey also shared what possible solutions that would encourage them and make them feel safer when visiting a medical institution. One of the recommendations was for an expanded focus on mental health careers for Black and Latina women, with over 89% of the participants emphasizing the importance of more Black and Latina therapists and counselors. 

Another agreement the participants made was that investments need to be made to reduce the stigma that comes with the medical field. 

To learn more about the poll and the organization’s HOPE and BWOPA, please visit https://tinyurl.com/4rf7hd4n. 

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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