A new state-funded report says that African Americans across California are generally not well-served by publically-funded mental health services and programs.
The report, funded by the California Reducing Disparities Project, was produced here in the Inland Empire. The report surveyed nearly 12-hundred African Americans across the state who are in need of – or have had contact with – public mental health systems. The survey showed that many blacks who need mental health services don’t know where to find those services.
And those who did get access to mental health services say that the lack of cultural familiarity with African Americans and their families often resulted in missed diagnoses or misdirected treatments:
"Black people are not receiving services that are cul-turally congruent with what is helpful to them in order to have good mental health and prevent mental issues from happening.”
Dr. Diane Woods, President of the African American Mental Health Institute of San Bernardino Coun-ty, led the statewide survey:
“that negative conception in society that black peo-ple are violent and hostile and really do not care about themselves and their families … we have to re-verse that, because what that does, feed into constant micro-aggression against black people. And you’ve heard it, the old, ‘here we go again, black folks saying they have a disadvantage.’ It’s a reality.”
Dr. Woods says one solution to better serving African Americans with mental health issues would be to better match clients with black psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and nurses. Dr. Woods will advocate for statewide distribution of a newly-compiled directory of African American mental health professionals when she presents her survey findings to the National Black Mental Health Workers con-ference in Los Angeles tomorrow.