Wednesday, October 9, 2013

APA Leader Discusses Access to Mental Health Care in Black Community

In response to the October 3 fatal car chase in downtown Washington, D.C., involving a Connecticut mother with a diagnosis for schizophrenia, Annelle Primm, M.D., M.P.H., director of the APA Office of Minority and National Affairs, was featured yesterday on "Tell Me More"—a daily broadcast on Washington's National Public Radio affiliate station, WAMU—to discuss mental health issues affecting minorities and women.

Primm told program host Michel Martin that the risk of experiencing depressive and anxiety disorders is especially prevalent among women, who are more than twice as likely to experience mental illness as men. "When we look at African-American women...mental illness occurs at similar rates as in other racial and ethnic groups...but these illnesses tend to be more chronic and disabling in this population," Primm explained. She pointed out that African Americans in general are less likely to seek psychiatric treatment due to lack of health insurance, absence of available services in the areas in which many of them live, and a cultural stigma attached to mental health treatment.

"The stigma that is connected to some of the culture's beliefs have kept mental illness in the shadows [in the African-American community]. Some people call this a double whammy because of the stigma of being an African American in this society... coming on top of having a mental illness, which is also stigmatized." She noted that African Americans have made some progress in recognizing the stigma surrounding mental illness and overcoming it, "but we still have a way to go."

For information about mental illness issues in the African-American community, see the Psychiatric News article "Project Seeks to Destroy Barriers Keeping Blacks From MH Care."

Click below to listen to Primm's full interview on "Tell Me More."

(Photo: Erin Conners)


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