Inaccessibility to high quality mental healthcare services. Cultural stigma. Lack of resources. Lack of awareness. Inability to afford insurance. All of these issues and more have contributed to disparities in mental healthcare in the United States.
Some of the biggest disparities are seen among children and youth who can experience poor mental health outcomes based on their socioeconomic status, gender or sexual identity, ethnic or racial minority status, or immigrant status. Studies show that African-American and Hispanic children and young adults receive significantly less behavioral healthcare than their white counterparts. If they do receive care, it is often poorer quality and less culturally competent. In some cases, health issues among minority youth often disproportionately result in punishment or incarceration, not healthcare.
As a result, many of these children fail to adequately reach developmental milestones in their education, in interpersonal and peer relationships, and civic functioning — all which can have lifelong effects.
As the stigma around mental illness continues to dissipate — and awareness of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increases — how can we be sure all children and young adults receive the care they need? How are we addressing barriers to the use of mental health services? What more needs to be done?