Disparities in access to healthcare exist across all specialties. This proves to be especially true when it comes to mental healthcare, and even more so among minority populations.
A number of barriers exist for patients seeking mental health services including healthcare worker shortage, disparity of access to appropriate medical insurance coverage, stigma of receiving mental healthcare and the fragmented relationship of medical and mental health services. Healthcare providers/organizations can take practical steps to improve patient access by:
- Making mental health screenings a staple component of primary medical care.
- Recognizing the social/cultural aspects of a patient population that may impact a patient’s medical and mental health.
- Medical organizations can conduct community health needs assessments (CHNA) in their patient communities to identify specific needs and limitations among the minority populations that they serve. In identifying these needs of their communities organizations and individual medical providers can help to ensure that patients of minority populations receive quality and affordable mental health services.
- Working towards a more collaborative approach between medical and mental health practices/providers to reduce barriers to care.
A patient’s care is often more than just medication. The greatest care cannot help unless a patient has support/resources in place to provide them with access to this care and fundamental life necessities.
For more information on National Mental Health Awareness Month as well as information on general mental health visit the Nation Awareness on Mental Illness (NAMI) at https://www.nami.org/home.