Key Information from Minority Mental Health Month

News Release
For Immediate Release: 7/30/2021

Julie Naughton, Office of Communications, (402) 471-1695 (office); (402) 405-7202 (cell);;

Lincoln – One in five adults in the United States experience a mental health condition each year. This number includes individuals from every culture, community or background. During National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month every July, the Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is committed to busting stigma and advocating for mental health care for everyone who is in need of it.

“Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on a person's race, gender, or background, but these factors can make it more difficult for an individual to receive care," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “Without adequate treatment, mental health conditions will likely continue and perhaps even worsen. The main goals of National Minority Mental Health Month are to improve access to mental health services and treatment, and to promote awareness of mental health and mental illnesses. It's also important to remember that help is available and that recovery is possible. You're not alone."

Of the 31,704 consumers in Nebraska who received community-based services from the Division of Behavioral Health in fiscal year 2020, 3% were Native American; 10% were Black; 84% were White; 2% were two or more races; 1% were categorized as “other."

According to the American Psychiatric Association, most racial/ethnic minority groups have similar—or in some cases, fewer—mental disorders than white Americans. However, the consequences of mental illness for minority groups may be longer lasting.

  • ​​Although rates of depression are lower in Black Americans (24.6%) and Hispanic/Latino Americans (19.6%) than in White Americans (34.7%), depression experienced by Black and Hispanic individuals is likely to be more persistent.
  • People from two or more races (24.9%) have been most likely to report mental illness within the past year than any other race/ethnic group, followed by American Indian and Alaska Natives (22.7%), White (19%), and Black (16.8%).
  • Native Americans and Alaskan Natives report higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol dependence than any other ethnic or racial group.
  • White Americans are more likely to die by suicide than people of other ethnic/racial groups.
  • Lack of cultural understanding by health care providers may contribute to under-diagnosis and/or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people from racially/ethnically diverse populations. Factors that contribute to these kinds of misdiagnoses include language differences between patient and provider, stigma of mental illness among minority groups, and cultural presentation of symptoms.

People from racial/ethnic minority groups are less likely to utilize mental health care. For example, in 2015, among adults with any mental illness, 48% of whites utilized mental health services, compared with 31% of Blacks and Hispanics, and 22% of Asians.

Differences also exist in the types of services (outpatient therapy, inpatient treatment or medication management) used more frequently by people of different ethnic/racial groups. Adults from two or more races, Whites, and American Indian/Alaska Natives were more likely to receive outpatient mental health services and more likely to use prescription medication than other racial/ethnic groups. Inpatient mental health services were used more frequently by Black adults and those reporting two or more races. Asians are less likely to use mental health services than any other race/ ethnic group.

Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:

  • Your faith-based leader
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 para Español
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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