In her years as a mental health practitioner, Kyaien Conner saw a system that fell short for people of color.
Most of her clients were white, even though she worked at mental health agencies in communities of color. And the tools used for diagnosis had been fine-tuned for predominantly white communities, leading to care that was insufficient for people of other races.
Today, as an assistant professor in the University of South Florida’s Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, Conner uses research to drive change in her profession.
But the disparities she saw on the front lines are still very much in place, as evidenced by a report released early Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that takes a snapshot of the nation’s pre-pandemic mental health.
In the past year, according to the report, non-Hispanic white adults were more likely to have received mental health treatment than any other race or Hispanic-origin group. The percentage of Black and Hispanic adults who received mental health treatment was about 10 points lower. Hispanic adults were the least likely to have received any mental health treatment.
The number of suicide calls from those who identify as Black have increased 19 percent this year, according to data from the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Calls for mental health issues in general went up 25 percent among the same group.
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