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Lincoln – During National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July, the Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are determined to make sure that everyone who needs mental health care receives it. Poor mental health care access and quality of care contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.
“While millions of Americans struggle with the reality of mental health conditions - whether they themselves have mental health conditions or their loved ones, the life experiences, education, income, race and ethnicity of an individual can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at DHHS. “We encourage all our communities to talk about the importance of mental healthcare and treatment to help break down barriers, such as negative perceptions about mental illness."
Of the 32,579 consumers in Nebraska who received community-based services from the Division of Behavioral Health in FY2018, 3.3% were Native American; 0.6% were Asian; 8.4% were Black; 0.4% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders; 72.1% were White; 1.3% were two or more races; 3.7% were categorized as “other", and race was not available for 10.2%.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has significantly impacted racial and ethnic minority communities in Nebraska. Existing difficulties in accessing healthcare can compound the challenges many minority populations face during a public health event, such as the ongoing pandemic. Stress related to COVID can also have an impact on individuals, so it is important that culturally competent behavioral health care is provided to everyone in need," said Josie Rodriguez, administrator for the Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity in the Division of Public Health at DHHS.
The 2020 Nebraska Health Disparities Report notes:
“Be a champion for mental health in your community. Community conversations are taking place across the country and in Nebraska. Give people a chance to learn more about mental health issues and how to reach individuals in their community," said Dawson. “Every community can start a conversation. There are so many partners ready to have new conversations where cultural humility can build new partnerships. As DBH embarks on its strategic plan, and as we increase awareness during Minority Mental Health month, let's create access in new ways and new places that reaches every Nebraskan."
Rodriguez noted that the Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity in the Division of Public Health at DHHS is currently working on a series of webinars addressing implicit bias in healthcare, which are expected to begin rolling out in early fall.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health (OMH) is hosting a virtual symposium on Thursday, September 17, to highlight efforts to address COVID-19 among racial and ethnic minority populations. For more information, please visit https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=1&lvlid=6.
Need to talk? It's okay to want to feel better. Reach out to your health provider, to faith based communities, your community center, or a mental provider near you. There are resources available to help you. They include: