July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month and, because New Mexico is a minority/majority multicultural state, it’s important to stand together to support health equity. Minority communities have historically suffered significant mental and physical health inequalities with regard to access and treatment. Health equity is achieved when everyone in our state has the same opportunity to be as healthy—physically and mentally—as possible, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or geographic location.
New Mexico is a diverse state, with indicators that many citizens may not be able to access proper mental health treatment:
- 6 in 10 New Mexicans are people of color and/or American Indian
- 36 in 100 speak a language other than English at home
- 1 in 10 New Mexicans were born outside the U.S.
- 1 in 5 New Mexicans live beneath the federal poverty line
- 1 in 10 New Mexicans have no health insurance
In New Mexico, 67% of children are racial minorities—51% are Hispanic; 12% are Native American, 2% are African American; and 2% are Asian. New Mexico is a culturally complex population, and research reveals that people from minority groups are less likely to receive mental health care. According to a 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, only 31% of Hispanic people received mental health care compared to 48% of white people.
Barriers to healthcare access greatly affect New Mexicans. Lack of insurance, lack of diversity among mental health care providers, or language barriers all contribute to the difficulty many New Mexicans face when seeking help. In addition, health care providers’ lack of cultural understanding may contribute to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people from racially/ethnically diverse populations. The New Mexico Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) supports cultural competency training for providers in New Mexico, because culturally informed, evidence-based mental healthcare is essential to improving minority mental health.
If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulty in gaining access to treatment, please know that help is available. Check the resources compiled by BHSD below, or talk to friends and family members for possible referrals within your community. Good health—including good mental health—is a fundamental human right. Stand with us to support positive conversations about minority mental healthcare, and end the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
- BHSD Treatment Connection: https://www.treatmentconnection.com or 833-275-2043
- Office of Health Equity (OHE), New Mexico Department of Health
- Amy Suman, MS, CPT (Director)
- Call 1-505-827-2358
- US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH): https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/default.aspx
- Comprehensive Minority Healthcare Resources: the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has compiled an extensive list for minority populations at https://afsp.org/mental-health-resources-for-underrepresented-communities
- New Mexico Health Equity Learning Center: courses on cultural competency, LGBTQ+ health and advocacy, and more: https://nmdohcc.org/