Raising awareness of BIPOC mental health and ending stigma

Magellan Healthcare is a proud supporter of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month in July. BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Color that aims to empower groups formerly identified as “minority” or “marginalized.”

In this post, we’ll discuss BIPOC mental health and barriers to care. You can learn more by watching a recording of our webinar, “Navigating mental healthcare: Unique challenges faced by the BIPOC community,” here.

Prevalence of mental health conditions among BIPOC communities

BIPOC face unique stressors that increase mental health vulnerability. Racism and discrimination are consistently found to be associated with poorer mental health.[1]

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the prevalence of mental health conditions among BIPOC:[2]

BIPOC adults (prevalence of any mental health condition)

  • 32% Two or more races
  • 19% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 18% Hispanic or Latinx
  • 17% Black or African American
  • 17% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders
  • 14% Asian American

BIPOC youth (prevalence of depression)

  • 21% Two or more races
  • 17% Hispanic or Latinx
  • 15% Asian American
  • 12% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 11% Black or African American
  • (data not available) Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders

Barriers for BIPOC in accessing mental healthcare

BIPOC are less likely to receive treatment for mental health or substance use conditions.[2] In 2020, 5.7% of Asian Americans, 9.4% of Black people or African Americans, and 10.7% of Hispanic or Latinx people received mental health services, compared to 21% of White people.[2]

Research indicates, compared with people who are White, people in BIPOC communities are:[3]

  • 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

Several factors contribute to BIPOC being less likely to receive treatment for mental health or substance use conditions, including a lack of insurance or underinsurance, mental illness stigma, a lack of diversity and cultural competence among mental healthcare providers, language barriers and distrust in the healthcare system.[4]

Increasing awareness of the issues people of color and those in marginalized communities face helps reduce stigma so those with mental health concerns can get the help they need to thrive in their lives.

On July 20 Magellan Healthcare hosted a webinar, “Navigating mental healthcare: Unique challenges faced by the BIPOC community,” for BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month with:

  • Samuel Williams, MD, MBA, FAPA, psychiatrist, Magellan Healthcare medical director
  • Karen Zelaya-Kendall, PhD, Magellan Healthcare senior care manager psychologist
  • Edna Richardson, MSW, LCSW, LFD, Magellan Healthcare senior care manager
  • Deborah Price, CFPS, Magellan Healthcare family support coordinator

Watch a recording of the webinar as we explore different roles in behavioral healthcare and overcoming stigma to help BIPOC feel more knowledgeable and comfortable about reaching out for help: https://www.magellanhealthcare.com/event/navigating-mental-healthcare/.


[1] “Racism as a Determinant of Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, “Self-Reported Experiences of Discrimination and Health: Scientific Advances, Ongoing Controversies, and Emerging Issues”, “Discrimination and Subsequent Mental Health, Substance Use, and Well-being in Young Adults”

[2] SAMHSA 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health Adult and Youth Mental Health Tables

[3] Counseling Today, “The historical roots of racial disparities in the mental health system”

[4] American Psychiatric Association, “Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations”

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