Do certain groups experience unique challenges to attaining positive mental well-being?
First, know that it’s normal for us or people we care about to experience anxiety or depression. In fact, one out of every five adults in the U.S. experiences some type of mental health issue every year.
While having mental health issues is normal, some groups struggle more than others when it comes to getting help. In fact, only a third of Black and Hispanic/Latino adults gets the mental health care they need.
Getting help for mental health is important because mental health is directly related to physical health.
People with a chronic illness are twice as likely to have a mental health condition, and those with mental health conditions are more likely to have a chronic illness. Having a chronic illness and a behavioral health condition is associated with worse health outcomes and more complex and costly care. And people of color are up to twice as likely to have major long-term chronic health conditions when compared to their white counterparts.1
That’s why there’s no health without mental health.
You may not realize it, but people who belong to minority groups often face different challenges around mental illness than their non-minority counterparts. They may:
- Deal with stressors that are unique to their diverse experiences.
- Be more likely to mistrust doctors.
- Have less access to mental health and substance-use treatment services.
- View mental illness as a weakness they need to hide.
- Be less comfortable with a doctor who doesn’t speak their native language or understand their cultural experiences.
How do cultural differences impact diagnoses and treatment of mental health conditions?
The differences and impacts can’t be denied. “Despite efforts to improve mental health services for Black people and other minority groups, barriers exist around access to mental health care. These barriers include stigma, distrust, lack of diverse and culturally competent providers, and underinsurance,” said Dr. Nick Dewan, Vice President for Behavioral Health for Florida Blue. “We must all work to address these barriers so everyone can have the opportunity to achieve optimal well-being.”
But there’s still a lot of work to do. A recent survey from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association found that 34% of Black women and 38% of Hispanic women said they were not screened for postpartum depression or did not know if they were screened. But early consistent screening is key to detecting and treating postpartum depression.2
Minority groups also face challenges outside of the health care system.
Racial and ethnic minorities are at a higher risk for mental health issues in adulthood. There are many reasons for this, including juggling multiple roles and stressful situations, like:
- Racial and LGBTQ+ profiling
- Financial insecurity
- Documentation status
- Sexual orientation and gender identity3
Some groups also face stigma within their community. In fact, 63% of Black adults see mental health issues as a sign of personal weakness. This perceived stigma is likely a contributing factor to a dire outcome: people of color are 20%-50% less likely to seek mental health care, and 40%-80% more likely to end treatment prematurely.2
And people from all ethnic and cultural groups who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community experience significantly higher rates of mental health conditions. As do non-Hispanic adults who identify as mixed/multiracial.
Lack of access to care and financial status also make a big difference when seeking and finding help:
- 80% of all rural counties lack a psychiatrist
- Uninsured and low-income adults are more likely to have serious mental health issues and less access to care. In fact, estimates show that people with the lowest income are three times more likely to have a mental health condition.2
COVID-19 has made this even more noticeable: 35% of adults with less than $40K a year in household income reported a major negative impact to their mental health due to the pandemic, versus 21% with $40K-$89K and 17% with $90K or more.2
Learning about and respecting our differences is an important step to improving health for everyone in our communities.
Where can I go if I don’t feel comfortable asking a friend or family member for help?
Understand that it’s okay not to be okay.
Self-help is often an important first step to attaining a positive mental state, whether that’s going for a walk, practicing prayer or meditation, or getting extra sleep.
It can be tough to ask for help, but maybe there’s a trusted mentor in your community, like a faith leader or community advocate, you’d feel okay talking with.
If you don’t feel like you can turn to someone you know, consider talking with your primary care doctor. Don’t be afraid to talk with them about your mental health because over time, poor mental health can impact your physical health. Your doctor can recommend a therapist or specialist who can help. And may even be able to recommend more self-help tools.
You can also turn to our Community Specialists at our Florida Blue Centers. They’re licensed social workers ready to help you and anyone in the community struggling with their mental health, whether they’re a member or not. They’ll answer your questions, listen to your concerns, and help you locate resources that may be available in your local community. Our centers also offer webinars and classes on topics like mental health—at no extra cost. Visit your local center or call 1-877-352-5830 or learn more at floridablue.com/center.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you’re a Florida Blue member, try meQuilibrium.* This online mental well-being program is designed to help you face each day with confidence. By using meQuilibrium, you can build resilience, learn ways to combat stress, find out your stress score and learn your stress triggers. It’s available at no extra cost with most health plans. You can access meQuilibrium from the Florida Blue member website in the Find & Get Care section. Click the Mental Well-Being tab and scroll to meQuilibrium in the Available Programs section to get started.
What can I do to help someone I know who is struggling?
Consider these tips to help you reach across cultural lines:
- Start with empathy. Ask questions that show you genuinely care and want to understand the person’s needs.
- Respect differences. Seeing the world differently doesn’t make it wrong.
- Avoid making judgments. Look for connections and start to build bridges from there.
- Just be present. Letting them know they’re not alone can work wonders.
Our Florida Blue family is filled with many faces from different backgrounds, but we’re one community. And we’re stronger when we remember to be kind to our neighbors and learn more about what makes each of us unique.
1Blue Cross Blue Shield. “Behavioral Health Equity: scale of impact.”
2Blue Cross Blue Shield: “Uniting to Advance Behavioral Health Equity.”
3American Psychological Association. “Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Racial and Ethnic Minority Youth.”
*meQuilibrium is an independent company contracted by Florida Blue to provide health and wellness services and resources to members. This benefit is available to Florida Blue members age 18 years and older. Eligibility is limited to members with an individual or family plan, an individual or family ACA plan and members with coverage from their fully insured group employer health plan.
Health insurance is offered by Florida Blue. HMO coverage is offered Florida Blue HMO, an affiliate of Florida Blue. These companies are
Independent Licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.