Your Health Matters


People face many barriers when it comes to accessing mental health

"It affects our physical health."
Posted: 4:36 PM, Apr 20, 2022
Updated: 2022-04-20 21:37:45-04
Mental Health

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The CDC said that mental health is an important part of our overall health which includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.

That’s why it’s so important for everyone to have accessible care to mental health services despite one's gender, race, or ethnicity.

While mental health holds a significant impact at every stage of life, from childhood, adolescence, and through adulthood, there are many factors that oftentimes create a barrier for members of diverse ethnic and racial groups to have equitable access to treatment.

“Everyone deserves a fair chance to live a healthy life and that no one should be denied the chance because of who they are,” said Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Director for Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, people from racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to receive mental health care.

Some barriers include not having insurance, language barriers, and even having a stigma associated with mental illness, among other reasons.

That is why Dr. Sergio said that there is a need to reduce both the stigma and disparity.

“The mental health stigma, it is the most important factor about not seeking mental health services. So, a stigma, or chain about mental health illness, is a big issue that needs to be addressed.”

A study done by the American Psychiatric Association found in 2017 that rates of depression were reported lower in Black and Hispanic people.

Black people were at a 24.6%, and Hispanic people at 19.6% in comparison to the 34.7% reported for white.

Although the rates were lower, the study said that depression in Black people and Hispanics are more likely to be more persistent. This is why Stacy Kuwahara from the Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services said that receiving treatment is one of the best decisions anyone can make.

“Addressing your mental health is one of the most important things you are going to do to take care of yourself, because our mental health affects so many other parts of our lives. It affects how we are going to do in school, how we do in our relationships, it affects our physical health. When you learn how to take care of your mental health, you are learning skills that are going to stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Although there may be a stigma associated with mental health among racial and ethnic group, Kuwahara said that no one should ever be ashamed to reach out and ask for help because it is more common than people think.

“I also really want to emphasize how normal it is and how many people struggle with their mental health. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t go through periods of feeling very sad and depressed or feeling very worried, stressed, or anxious.”

If you are seeking assistance or treatment for your mental health, there are a variety of resources available for both children and adults in Kern County.

23ABC In-Depth

Mental illness is a personal and quiet struggle that may impact more people than you think.

23ABC took an in-depth look at a 2020 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that illustrates the scope of this issue.

According to the study, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year. And 1 in 20 U.S. adults experiences a serious mental illness each year.

1 in 5 U.S adults reports that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health.

NAMI 2020MH ByTheNumbers Adults

The study also says 1 in 6 U.S. youth ages 6-to-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. And 50-percent of almost all mental illnesses begin by age 14, and 75-percent by age 24.

NAMI 2020MH ByTheNumbers Youth

Among people aged 12 and older who drink alcohol, 15% report increased drinking. Among people aged 12 and older who use drugs, 10% report increased use.

Annual prevalence of mental illness among U.S. adults, by demographic group:

  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 13.9%
  • Non-Hispanic white: 22.6%
  • Non-Hispanic black or African-American: 17.3%
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native: 18.7%
  • Non-Hispanic mixed/multiracial: 35.8%
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 16.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 18.4%
  • Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual: 47.4%

Over 12 million U.S adults had serious thoughts of suicide. Sadly suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 10-to-34.