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Racism in Medicine and Healthcare

For University of Arizona College of Medicine- Tucson

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Disparities in Mental Health

Healthcare disparities affect not just physical health, but also mental health. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, minority groups are at high risk for negative mental health outcomes.

  • In 2017, 10.5% (3.5 million) of young adults ages 18 to 25 had serious thought of suicide, including 8.5% of non-Hispanic Blacks and 9.2% of Hispanics.
  • In 2017, 7.5% (2.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had a serious mental illness including 7.6% of non-Hispanic Asians, 5.7% of Hispanics and 4.6% of non-Hispanic blacks.
  • The global pandemic has effected minority groups disproportionately, and as a result stress and mental health complications as a result of the pandemic are likely to be more pronounced among minority groups.
  • Adult Blacks and African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites.
  • Blacks and African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide at all ages. However, Black and African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than White teenagers (9.8 percent v. 6.1 percent).
  • Black and African American people are more often diagnosed with schizophrenia and less often diagnosed with mood disorders compared to white people with the same symptoms. Additionally, they are offered medication or therapy at the lower rates than the general population.
  • Because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black or African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues.
  • In 2018, 58.2 percent of Black and African American young adults 18-25 and 50.1 percent of adults 26-49 with serious mental illness did NOT receive treatment.


This information has been adapted from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and Mental Health America