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'Lack of representation': Minority Mental Health Month highlights gaps in Tulsa

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Posted at 8:04 PM, Jul 10, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

Congress designated the month in 2008 with a goal to bring awareness to the unique mental health struggles minorities in America face.

The Department of Health and Human Services found mental disorders affect people of all ages and backgrounds, but racial and ethnic minorities experience numerous mental health disparities including lower treatment rates for mental disorders like depressionand higher rates of attempted suicide.

Daniel Washington works at Black Wall Street Souvenirs. Washington said one issue he sees with mental health for minorities is the lack of representation in mental health professionals.

According to Prosper Oklahoma, five of every 100 Tulsa psychologists are Black. Nationally, the Association of Black Psychologists found 4% of psychologists and 2% of psychiatrists are reported to be Black.

"There needs to be way more therapist counselors, youth programs for people dealing with mental health, churches,” said Washington.

Tulsa’s 2023 Equality Indicators show the quality of life score for African Americans is the lowest it's been since 2018.
It's even worse for those living in poverty. HHS reports they are three times more likely to have mental health problems.

"I'm glad they're giving it some more awareness to really talk about it and really talk about what's going on with our mental health,” said Washington.

2 News talked to Jadea Miller, a counselor at Revive Counseling, she said she’s seen troubling trends with Black people coming to therapy.

"People are using substances to cover or self-medicate and self-regulate when they just need to release their stress by talking about the problems that they're facing,” said Miller.

Miller said despite the troubling trends, she's hopeful things will get better so, "minorities feel empowered; they don't feel disempowered behind what they've been through,” said Miller.

Staff at Revive Counseling said they are expanding services to help reach more minority clients.

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