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This series by Eric Litwiller of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas looks at mental health in the Wichita area. It is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Commentary: Minorities face significant and systemic barriers to mental health care

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Warren Wong
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The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the disparate access to health providers between the general population, and minorities. And in perhaps no aspect of health is this discrepancy more apparent than in the area of mental health.

Nearly 31% of those who identify as transgender have considered suicide, compared to only 2.3% of the general population. Black people with mental health conditions are more likely to be incarcerated than are people of other races. And across the board, members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color populations lack access to culturally competent care. In many of these same ethnic minorities, there already exists a greater stigma to mental illness than exists for non-Hispanic Whites. When coupled with the shortage of practitioners and the lack of facilities within minority communities, these issues pose significant and systemic barriers to mental health care.

Minority groups rely on therapists whom they feel can share their experiences. Not only does this create a greater comfort level in seeking care, but it allows for a more appropriate treatment plan that is in line with the background and experience of the person seeking help. But providing clinicians and facilities continues to be a challenge throughout south central Kansas, and it’s up to us to talk to our elected officials about their plans to create a stronger Wichita for all minority groups.