Legislation would improve mental health access for minorities

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Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House would improve mental health access for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The Strengthening Mental Health Supports for BIPOC Communities Act would amend the Public Health Service Act to improve access to mental health services under the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program.

Under the bill, state plans are required to report information on outreach to and hiring of BIPOC providers from multiple disciplines of mental health services, training to providers on culturally and linguistically responsive services, and health inequities within BIPOC communities to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the bill.

“We must remove the stigma surrounding mental illness from our communities and ensure that everyone has access to mental healthcare to show those who are struggling that they are not alone,” Cárdenas said.

In the United States, nearly one in five American adults live with a diagnosable mental health disorder. Annually, 43 percent receive treatment.

Minority groups are least likely to receive treatment because of cultural stigma surrounding mental healthcare, discrimination, a shortage of providers, and limited access to high quality culturally and linguistically responsive services.

The bill has the support of numerous health and BIPOC organizations.

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