More people around the globe now realize the importance of caring for their mental health. They are learning more about how their brains work and reaching out to counselors and other psychiatric professionals to help treat their mental health concerns.
The world has learned the devastating consequences of inequality in healthcare. For example, racial minorities in the United States are more likely to die from COVID simply because they do not have adequate access to healthcare or insurance.
The same issue is occurring with mental health care. Expanding health care is a critical issue because all people deserve to be physically and mentally well. No one should be excluded from proper care because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation.
The importance of inclusive mental health care cannot be understated. One of the best ways to create a more inclusive health care system is by first educating yourself. Read on to learn more about what inclusive mental health care looks like and what barriers prevent it from becoming a reality.
As the name suggests, inclusive mental health care consists of mental health services that are available to all people, regardless of location, finances, race, gender, or sexual orientation. It is health care that does not exclude anyone and makes efforts to ensure everyone is treated and heard with compassion and understanding.
However, it’s not just about creating more accessible mental health care; this care needs to be of good use to the patient as well.
Many clients from excluded communities face obstacles that people of other groups don’t have experience with or understand. That means when they discuss their problems with their counselors, these counselors (though well-meaning) will not truly be able to empathize with their client’s experiences. Therefore, inclusive mental health care must also diversify its staff so that everyone can be heard and cared for with true understanding and empathy.
Mental health care that is not more inclusive can have detrimental consequences on society as a whole. A lack of inclusive mental health care means that millions of people live with emotional pain and mental health conditions without the treatment they need.
For example, anywhere from 13% to 25% of BIPOC communities in the United States live with a mental illness or condition each year, but only a fraction of them receive treatment and care. This is primarily due to the barriers and obstacles these communities face and will be discussed in detail below.
Excluded groups face many challenges when it comes to receiving adequate healthcare. They often do not have the financial and power advantages that many others have, nor do they have the resources available to receive adequate mental health care.
Below are some common barriers that prevent various groups from receiving the mental health care they need.
- Low income/financial problems
- Racism and discrimination
- Lack of health insurance
- Stigmas over mental health care
- Lack of education on the importance of mental health
- Physical disabilities
- Invisible disabilities and mental health conditions that are rarely understood or discussed with compassion
If you are a mental healthcare professional and wish to make your services more inclusive, then read below for some ideas on how to do just that.
- Educate Yourself: The best way to create more inclusive mental health services is to educate yourself. Research the unique struggles and barriers excluded groups face as well as potential solutions to those barriers.
- Create A Diverse Office: Diverse clients feel safer and more comfortable with diverse healthcare practitioners. These clients often have unique challenges that certain other groups do not understand or have experience with. Diversifying your office ensures that many clients are heard and seen with empathy and understanding.
- Open Services To All: Think about what you can do to make your services more inclusive. Perhaps you can create a sliding scale for people with a low income or offer free or cheap options, such as group therapy and support groups.
- Offer Remote Services: The pandemic has shown the world that many services can be offered without leaving the comfort of your home. Many people have utilized therapy and other healthcare services by simply using their phones. Remote services make it easier to keep costs down and help those who cannot travel far for their care.
Without developing more inclusive mental health care, millions of people will live with the added obstacle of an untreated mental health condition. Everyone deserves access to mental health care regardless of race, gender, orientation, disability, or location. With more education and discourse, this can become a reality.