If you were to take a scale and place the current percentage of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) mental health professionals in the United States on one plate and the percentage of BIPOC or other minority groups in need of mental health care on the other With another saucer, the balance would be far from being equal. Far below would be BIPOC and other minorities with mental health disorders, whether they are receiving treatment or not.
Nearly 75 percent of mental health professionals in the U.S. today are white (fountain). That leaves about 25 percent as non-white, whether they identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color or some other race or ethnicity. Suffice to say, the minority mental health professional side of the scale needs some weight. But how, when, and why does the mental health field need to increase its diversity when it comes to care professionals?
Trust, connection and other reasons for diversity
ADAA member Bernadine Waller, PhD, LMHC, along with colleagues in an NIH research paper, aptly titled Should we trust you?wrote, “the underrepresentation of BIPOC mental health professionals negatively impacts mental health help-seeking” in these communities, and stated in the report that, “without options for providers who share cultural, linguistic, and other intersectional identifiers that could provide culturally humble services and competent care, BIPOC are likely to remain distrustful.”
Distrust. It is one of the main reasons why many BIPOC and people from other minority groups do not seek mental health care. We already know that many people in these communities have difficulty finding, affording, and receiving treatment. Trust (or rather distrust) is one factor, but others such as stigma, racism, discrimination, linguistic and/or cultural differences, as well as socioeconomic barriers, also keep them at bay.
It makes sense that someone of a particular race or culture would feel more comfortable, confident, and connect better with someone from their own community, but with a shortage of mental health providers who look like them, understand them, and share some of their same feelings. experiences, what can we do? (Read 5 Meaningful Ways to Embrace Black Mental Health)
ADAA’s BIPOC approach works to help fill the gap
The importance of not only increasing the number of minority and BIPOC mental health care experts, but also providing them with a professional community, has not gone unnoticed at ADAA. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is embedded in our mission and our DEI statement encompasses our core organizational values. We encourage the integration of cultural competency into mental health care training for all providers and emphasize education for all of our members and professional community through our webinars and conference sessions.
ADAA understands how essential it is for all mental health professionals to provide the best care available and the importance of increased education, but we must continue to create safe spaces for minority providers. With programs that include scholarships, awards, mentorships, and continuing education, ADAA provides opportunities for young, early-career minority and BIPOC mental health professionals to meet and network with each other.
Through this commitment, says Cecilia Hinojosa, PhD, winner of the 2022 ADAA BIPOC Membership Scholarship, “it opened the door to networking with other award recipients” and introduced her to other BIPOC and mental health professionals. of minorities that otherwise would not have had. a chance to meet.
“Since receiving the BIPOC award, I have joined two ADAA SIGs (Special Interest Groups) and have had more opportunities to improve my leadership skills,” said Dr. Hinojosa, who identifies as a cisgender Mexican-American woman.
More BIPOC leaders lead to greater BIPOC participation
Enhancing and supporting leadership in the minority and BIPOC mental health professional community is a crucial part of ADAA’s work. As more and more minority and BIPOC mental health professionals take on leadership roles, ADAA anticipates two things:
- More BIPOC and minority students will be encouraged and also provided opportunities to pursue degrees in mental health.
- More people from BIPOC and minority communities will be able and willing to receive care and treatment from BIPOC and minority mental health professionals.
Darius Dawson, PhD, says he applied for the ADAA BIPOC award because it was a great opportunity to expose himself to anxiety research while networking with other BIPOC peers.
“It was important to connect with other BIPOC peers, which is very rare in this field,” said Dr. Dawson, a cisgender Black man, emphasizing how his ADAA membership has helped him.
“I haven’t felt a sense of belonging like I felt as a member of ADAA,” he explained. “Many organizations don’t ask new members or early-career professionals to be a part of their growth.”
Training the next generation of BIPOC and minority mental health professionals is vital to addressing disparities in mental health care in BIPOC and minority communities. ADAA is excited to be a part of the work to help balance the mental health equity scale.
Learn more about ADAA’s BIPOC content, scholarship winners, special interest groups (SIGs), and the 2024 annual conference in Boston.