This blog posted is presented by the IPR Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Mental Health Awareness Month.
Studies have shown that nearly 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year and mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.
A Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 also found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over COVID-19. As the pandemic wears on, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose many people to experiencing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes.
Mental Health America also reports that 17% of Black people and 23% of Indigenous people live with a mental illness, and people who identify as belonging to two or more races are most likely to report any mental illness within the past year than any other racial or ethnic group. Research has shown that BIPOC/AAPI groups are:
- Less likely to have access to mental health services
- Less likely to seek out treatment
- More likely to receive low or poor quality of care
- More likely to end services early
Some of these barriers can be attributed to a variety of factors such as cultural stigma around mental illness, systemic racism and discrimination, language barriers, a lack of health insurance, mistrust of mental health care providers, and a lack of cultural competency on the part of mental health care providers.
Sarah Jackson is the Director of Communications for the Institute for Public Relations.