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Minority Mental Health Month

Danielle Besuden

Danielle Besuden

July is Minority Mental Health Month, a designated time to raise awareness about how culture, race, and background impact mental health.

Just this week, an IVMF and Military Times COVID-19 poll revealed that during this pandemic, minority veterans report a higher percentage of resource needs – including mental health resources.

With an increasingly racially and ethnically diverse military population (recent reports show as much as  31% of the United States Military is non-white, with about 17.1 percent identifying as Black or African American), it’s more important than ever that we understand how to effectively reach and serve these minority veterans.

This begins with recognizing that while anyone can experience a mental health condition, background and identity can make access to care much more difficult.

Unfortunately, it’s well documented that non-white and in particular, African-American and Black veterans, experience discrimination and disparities in many aspects of their military and veteran experience. For example, numerous studies have identified disparities in mental health diagnoses, access, and outcomes for minority veterans and service members, including:

These findings are concerning and critical to address. At Cohen Veterans Network, our vision is to “ensure that every veteran and family member is able to obtain access to high-quality, effective care that enables them to lead fulfilling and productive lives. In order to provide effective care for minority veteran populations we must continue to adapt our treatment to acknowledge the impact racial, cultural and ethnic differences have on the effectiveness of certain interventions.  We are committed to breaking down all barriers to care – this includes acting proactively to address these disparities.

 

By Danielle Besuden, MSSW, LICSW

Manager, Clinical Programs, Cohen Veterans Network