Caring for BIPOC and minority mental health

July 19, 2022 Swedish Health Team

Over the month of July, Swedish recognizes Minority Mental Health Month which focuses on the multitude of mental health experiences within black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, and others that face disproportionate inequities due to systemic barriers and historical adversity.

"It's especially important for behavioral health care providers to have knowledge of the communities we serve," says Meredith Ford, LCSW, a social worker with the Providence Behavioral Health Concierge Program. "As behavioral health providers part of our ongoing responsibility is to practice with cultural humility or ongoing self-assessment and self-critiquing. We must continue to strive for intercultural competence and engage in ongoing education so that we can provide the best care possible." 

"Increasing access in rural communities by using effective programs like Telehealth, working with elders or community leaders understanding how mental health issues may manifest differently in specific communities, reducing shame and stigma, and increasing the number of care providers from BIPOC communities are all important ways to reduce barriers and improve outcomes," says Meredith.    

Our behavioral health experts acknowledge and work to support those who are disproportionately affected by mental illness. Our Swedish Ballard Behavioral Health Unit has compiled some important statistics for us to all keep in mind, as well as mental health resources.

Racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use those services and more likely to receive lower quality care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Poor mental health care access and lack of quality of care can contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among BIPOC communities.

BIPOC mental health care facts:

  • Black and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about half the rate of white Americans in the past year.
  • Asian Americans used mental health services at about one-third the rate of white Americans in the past year.
  • 36% of Hispanic Americans with depression received care, compared to 60% of whites.
  • In 2018, 58.2% of Black young adults 18 to 25 and 50.1% of Black adults 26 to 49 with serious mental illness did not receive treatment.
  • Only 8.6% of Asian Americans sought any type of mental health services or resource compared to nearly 18% of the general population nationwide.

With this in mind, we want to bring attention to mental health resources available through Swedish as well as out in our community:

  • Swedish Behavioral Health and Wellbeing: At Swedish, we believe mental health plays a critical role in your overall wellbeing and quality of life. We provide comprehensive behavioral health care from tele-services to inpatient care and are dedicated to decreasing and eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Washington Therapy Fund Foundation: According to their website, this fund was founded to eliminate some of the barriers to Black healing. In response to the incessant police brutality and anti-Blackness, the Washington Therapy Fund Foundation was birthed. To date it has paid for over 500 therapy sessions due in part to help of community.
  • Somali Health Board Behavioral health
  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service
  • NAMI Seattle holds a weekly peer-led group open to all BIPOC individuals looking for mental health support and connection. Meetings are every Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m. Click here to register for the group. NAMI Seattle also has an extensive list of local resources specifically for BIPOC individuals listed here.
  • Loveland Foundation: The Loveland foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Its resources and initiatives are collaborative, and prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. Click on “therapy fund” at their website to learn how you can apply for free therapy sessions.
  • Shine App: Shine is on a mission to make caring for your mental and emotional health easier, more inclusive, and more representative. Founded by a Black woman and a half-Japanese woman. It is a downloadable phone app that provides a large library of guided meditations, personalized meditations, and monthly community care events. A subscription to the app regularly costs $65/year and they often offer new member discounts.


Find a doctor

Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor or mental health professional virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a physician, caregiver or advanced care practitioner, you can use our provider directory. Learn more about behavioral health and psychiatry programs at Swedish.
Related resources
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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