Study Reveals Depression's Burden on African Americans
Contact: Jason Halal, (703) 797-1943
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 6, 2007) - Depression is more disabling and persistent for African Americans, according to the largest psychiatric epidemiologic study of African Americans in the United States to date. Published today in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the study found that African Americans and Caribbean blacks are significantly less likely to receive treatment than non-Hispanic whites. The National Study of American Life demonstrates the tremendous burden depression and other mental illnesses place on African Americans.
"These results are disturbing, but they confirm what's been known - despite a present need, countless African Americans are soldiering through depression alone," said Raymond Crowel, Psy.D., vice president of research, practice and policy at Mental Health America. "Cultural and social stigma prevent far too many African Americans and other minority groups from seeking help for mental health problems. And those who do get the treatment they deserve often do not get it until their condition is most severe."
- Though whites experience depression more often, African Americans and Caribbean blacks experience greater severity and persistence.
- Depression is more disabling for African Americans and takes a greater toll on all aspects of their lives - including work, relationships, social and overall - than for whites.
- Only 45% of African Americans and 23.4% of Caribbean blacks received depression treatment.
- Many African Americans turn to non-health care professionals for help, such as the clergy.
Although depression has an 80% treatment success rate, Americans need a better understanding of the illness and its treatment, especially among people of diverse cultural backgrounds. Cultural and social stigma frequently cause minority groups to view depression and other mental illnesses as personal flaws or signs of weakness.
"Compounding the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, health care systems and providers often lack cultural and linguistic competency skills - leaving them ill-equipped to help people of diverse cultural backgrounds recover from treatable mental illnesses," said Dr. Crowel. "Even if a person seeks help, it is a distinct possibility that the services will be inappropriate."
Mental Health America and its 320 affiliates are working to ensure that an array of culturally- and linguistically-appropriate services are available throughout the nation. For more information, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/ or call (703) 797-2588.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.