For mental health emergencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline, at 1-800-273-8255 or text “NAMI” to 741741.
Unfortunately, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity are still barriers for many seniors attempting to access quality care, especially mental and behavioral health resources. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many people are unaware that these barriers exist or do not know where and how to access necessary behavioral health resources.
In an attempt to spread awareness of these issues, July is designated as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), this observation is dedicated to raising awareness of the unique mental health challenges facing racial and ethnic minorities and connecting people to potentially life-saving resources.
However, awareness of these resources shouldn’t be limited to one month a year. Elders deserve to know about and have access to culturally sensitive care year-round.
We recognize that the intersection of age and minority status places minority seniors at greater risk of developing mental health issues and creates unique barriers to accessing healthcare and behavioral health services. To help ease this burden, we have compiled a list of mental health resources made specifically for racial, ethnic, sexual, and/or religious minority older adult populations.
Black older adults in the United States face worse mental health outcomes than their White peers, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Barriers to accessing proper behavioral health resources include limited availability of nearby services, financial constraints, and systemic barriers like professional bias against racial minorities.
Part of the solution to improving mental health outcomes for Black seniors, experts believe, includes improving the quality of all healthcare services for Black Americans, removing systemic obstacles for racial minorities in the United States legal, financial, and judicial systems, and improving awareness of Black-specific mental health issues and how to address them among mental health professionals, which includes increasing the number of Black mental health professionals.
The following resources can help African American and Black seniors in the United States access mental health care.
As a religious and ethnic minority, the need for proper access to mental health services for Jewish Americans remains high. The following Jewish organizations can help Jewish seniors (and other age groups) access culturally sensitive mental health care.
Finding culturally sensitive behavioral health services for “Asian American, and Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians” can be difficult, because this term is so incredibly broad and encompasses a wide range of cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Fortunately, the following resources can direct people toward more culturally sensitive services, including those available in a variety of languages.
The Hispanic population is one of the most rapidly growing racial and ethnic groups in the United States. However, obstacles still remain for Hispanic/Latinx seniors attempting to access proper care, including language barriers.
The following resources may be able to assist Hispanic/Latinx individuals trying to get the services they need.
The intersection of race, sexuality/gender identity, and age can make accessing appropriate services daunting. That said, there are organizations in the United States that recognize the unique mental health needs of older LGBTQ adults of color, including the following.
It can be difficult for Indigenous elders to access mental health care that is considerate of their unique cultural backgrounds. Fortunately, the following organizations are dedicated to improving the lives of Indigenous peoples residing inside the United States and/or Indian reservations, including offering mental health resources.
While more data is still needed to paint a more holistic picture of the mental health status of Arab Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, and Muslim Americans, current research shows that certain obstacles in the United States, including anti-Arab sentiments, can increase the odds of negative mental health outcomes for these groups. These findings show that their need for culturally appropriate care is as strong as ever.
The following resources may be able to help these seniors access mental and behavioral health services.
Professionals, caregivers, and loved ones can always improve their approach to mental health care and support, especially their care for minority seniors. The following resources are designed to help two groups of people: (1) untrained individuals, like friends and family, who are attempting to help their struggling loved ones, and (2) physical and behavioral health professionals and caregivers who want to improve the quality of the services they provide to minority seniors.
Disclaimers: This article is for informational purposes only. The content contained herein cannot be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. This resource list is not exhaustive.