Understanding Stigma Regarding Mental Health Care in Racial and Ethnic Minorities: A Systematic Review
Category: Social Science
Abstract – Many studies have reported the prevalence of stigma towards mental illness and mental health treatment among racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States, with such attitudes influencing mental health literacy within these populations. Societal values propagated within certain minority communities such as self-dependency, personal resilience, spirituality, and obligation to family, combined with a lack of awareness and knowledge about certain mental health conditions—including misjudgment of illness severity and misunderstanding of disease etiology—can deter levels of perceived need and care-seeking. A lack of trust in mental health care professionals due to language barriers, cultural insensitivity, or unfamiliarity can also delay or prevent treatment. This review aims to examine varying reasons behind mental health care stigma in major ethnic groups in the United States, including those of Asian American, African American, Hispanic, and Native American heritage. By understanding the cultural background and social context of mental health stigma, medical institutions are better able to implement effective, patient-centered, and culturally responsive approaches to mental health care.