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Minorities with Mental Illness Suffer Dual Discrimination

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, an effort the Treatment Advocacy Center is supporting with a series of messages focusing on how people from racially diverse groups suffer dual discrimination.

America's mental health policies discriminate systematically against all of the nation's most vulnerable citizens - people with serious mental illness - but they double down on discrimination in minority communities.

African-American men in psychiatric crisis are less likely to be given a psychiatric evaluation for hospitalization than individuals with similar symptoms who are white, for example, and more likely to be sent to jail. What’s more, once they arrive in their cells, mentally ill black inmates are less likely to receive treatment than mentally ill white prisoners.

Just this month, Psychiatric Services published findings that individuals from minority communities are less likely to receive adequate follow-up following discharge from a hospital - which we know makes them more likely to be rehospitalized or otherwise trapped in the revolving door of poor outcomes, including criminalization.

"This study found low rates of follow-up, and even lower rates of adequate treatment, following discharge, across all racial ethnic groups and we found that blacks were significantly less likely than whites to receive any follow-up within 30 days of discharge," the authors wrote in "Quality of follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness among patients from racial-ethnic minority groups" (Psychiatric Services, July 2014).

Follow the Treatment Advocacy Center on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about dual discrimination during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

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