Between the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, social and economic inequalities all around the world, and the impacts of racism, homophobia, and other discrimination against disenfranchised groups, it’s no wonder that mental illness is on the rise.
Even before the pandemic, an estimated one in eight people were living with a mental disorder. During the first year of the pandemic, global rates of anxiety and depression increased by an alarming 25%.
In this environment, it is more important than ever to make sure we in the mental health community are focusing our efforts on finding solutions for the people who need mental healthcare the most. We are grateful that the World Health Organization has made this issue the focal point of World Mental Health Day 2022, with the theme “Making Mental Health and Well-Being for All a Global Priority.”
Mental Health Challenges Abound in 2022
Mental illness affects people in every community and demographic group, and it’s important to remember that there’s no one type of person who experiences these conditions. However, certain communities are disproportionately affected, both because of the challenges that come with living as part of a disenfranchised group of people, and because of the lack of access to quality care that fits their needs.
At Hurdle, we’re especially focused on creating opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities — groups that to this day are largely left out of the U.S mental healthcare system — to access culturally intentional therapy.
Of the 40 million Black Americans, 20% are more likely to struggle with mental illness due to complex societal stressors. Fifty-four percent receive treatment for depression compared to 73% of White Americans. And, 54% drop out of therapy prematurely vs. 33% in the general population.
And when people from disenfranchised groups do seek out therapy, they often struggle to find a therapist who understands the unique challenges that come with their identity and is able to provide care that fits their unique needs and culture.
This reality, along with systemic socioeconomic and political inequities, help explain why Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans who experience mental illness are significantly less likely than White Americans to receive treatment for those conditions.
The Role of Culturally Intentional Mental Healthcare
Now more than ever, each of us has a role to play in helping to eliminate systemic barriers to mental well-being. As communities, as governments, and as individuals, it’s time to commit to making sure people can access the quality mental healthcare they need, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or location.
We’re excited to see that the WHO shares this commitment and is shining a spotlight on it for World Mental Health Day. We also understand that these problems will not be solved in one day, and instead require continued efforts, commitment, and collaboration.
At Hurdle, we’ve chosen to focus specifically on creating a culturally intentional therapy model that makes it easier for people of color to access the therapy they need, whenever and wherever they need it. We look forward to seeing how other organizations carry forward the mission of mental health and well-being for all in their niches and spheres of influence.