Why Cultural Competence Is Important In African American Mental Healthcare

Approximately 7 million African Americans experience mental illness in a given year, according to Mental Health America, but only a small fraction get adequate treatment. Psychiatry.org notes just one-third of African American adults requiring mental healthcare receive care.

For white American adults, that number is closer to one in two. African Americans face a variety of structural barriers to appropriate care, including racism and stigma. Those who do manage to seek treatment are often met with culturally incompetent practitioners: a pattern that must change if the mental healthcare community is ever to be a viable resource for African Americans.

Why cultural competency

Cultural competency requires medical practitioners to approach care for patients with sensitivity to factors that affect their experiences and values, including race, social class, and history of discrimination. The numerous obstacles African Americans face before even reaching the point of interaction with mental health practitioners only magnifies its importance –– as discussed in a piece on the African American experience in mental healthcare from [email protected]

Culturally, for African Americans, seeking treatment for mental health issues can be seen as