A person’s mental health is equally as important as their physical health, if not more so, according to Jeralyn Jones a psychiatrist for Boise State University Health Services.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, patients have had to switch to telehealth appointments via Zoom or phone calls beginning in March. One of the main points of discussion Jones has with patients is the feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation.
Some of these emotions are being heightened by the Black Lives Matter movement and political tension in the country.
“I feel like for some people who are already experiencing microaggression, who are already disenfranchised and have that stress, then they have the murders of the young Black men and women,” Jones said. “I think that is re-traumatizing as well and especially for people of color right now.”
Rates of depression can range in diverse populations but are lower in Black and Latinx people than in white people. However, depression is more likely to be persistent and long-lasting in people of color, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The persistence and longevity of mental disorders may be attributed to treatment barriers and lack of access to care, according to Jones.
“It’s kind of what you would expect [when looking at the barriers to care.] A lack of insurance, mental illness stigma can be greater among minority populations and one we are looking at and trying to address at University Health Services is the lack of diversity among mental health care providers,” Jones said. “Also a lack of culturally competent providers, so people just not even being aware.”
Language can be another barrier of receiving the correct care, as well as the minority communities having distrust for the healthcare system in general due to possible bias, according to Jones.
“I don’t want to be gloom and doom, but it is tragic and it’s the truth,” Jones said.
The University Health Services is working towards diversifying their staff, as well as receiving training to care for patients of the minority community in an educated and helpful way, according to Jones.