Minorities face greater barriers when accessing mental health care, doctors say

Minorities face greater barriers when accessing mental health care, doctors say

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, but there are still barriers to minority mental health care.

But for many people in communities of color, the process of navigating these challenges can be difficult.

Dr. Sid Khurana, the medical director of Nevada Mental Health, knows all too well the difficulties that minorities face.

“Asian culture, the culture I come from, we are a third less likely to seek mental health care than our Caucasian counterparts and that comes from our own perception of mental illness, lack of adequate insight,” explained the Dr. Khurana.

In many cultures, mental health stigma stems from fear or shame preventing people from seeking help.

“They don’t believe that they will get the right care from their healthcare providers, or that their culture would be understood, that their language would be understood, or that they distrust the system, which often prevents them from treatment,” added Dr. Khurana.

Other factors also include the type of community you live in, lack of transportation, and lack of health insurance.

Dr. Jacobs, the vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI of Southern Nevada, is trying to change that.

“We work more with young people and communities of color, one of the goals has been to meet people where they are,” Dr. Jacobs said. “So a lot of our support groups, we have them in places where they’re accessible to people where support groups are needed the most.”

Dr. Jacobs says NAMI also works in partnership with other mental health organizations to meet these needs.

“We really try to educate individuals from diverse communities about mental health and normalize it as much as possible by raising awareness,” Dr. Jacobs said.

NAMI offers free peer support groups. For a list of services and to learn more, visit this link.

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