In the past, talking about or receiving help for mental health problems was extremely stigmatized. Thankfully, as time has progressed, the public’s general consensus on mental health has shifted significantly. What was once looked at as being a weakness, is now looked at as a normalized aspect of health.
Unfortunately, though the public attitude toward receiving help for mental health problems has notably shifted, many are still unable to access the mental health resources they need. In particular, individuals from underserved populations have the most limited access to the help they need to overcome their mental health challenges. Finding ways to accommodate individuals from these communities is a keyway to create a more mentally well nation.
Here are some ways to provide underserved populations with the mental health resources they need.
Before significant change can be made, it’s vital to gain a deeper understanding of the mental health needs of individuals coming from underserved communities. While each individual may have their own unique mental health challenges, it’s likely that many people from underserved communities share certain challenges.
Once it is understood exactly what type of mental health help these populations need, organizations can begin meaningfully creating resources for masses of individuals to receive care. This being the case, crafting initiatives that determine the most common and pressing mental health needs of underserved populations is a key first step to remedying the situation.
In addition to digging deeper and discovering what the biggest mental health obstacles are for individuals from underserved populations, engaging in culturally competent forms of treatment is also extremely important. If organizations fail to understand certain cultural idiosyncrasies of the groups that they treat, they may have difficulty treating individuals effectively.
This is also an important step to engage in when helping immigrants and refugees find health resources. By taking time to understand cultural traits and identities, better mental health resources can be offered to various groups that help solve their issues and meet their specific needs. As such, cultural competence should be a priority in any initiative that focuses on providing underserved populations with the mental health resources that they require.
For many individuals in underserved populations, commuting regularly to a mental health professional can be a huge barrier to receiving mental care. Conversely, finding places to hold mental health appointments can be a big cost for organizations looking to provide those in need with care. Telehealth practices, such as phone or video call therapy sessions, have an immense amount of potential to help make receiving mental health care more accessible and equitable for individuals from underserved communities.
To do this effectively, organizations may have to help individuals find access to technology that allows them to engage in telehealth services such as phones, tablets, and computers. While it may seem like a large upfront cost, this could potentially make efforts more effective and therefore more cost-effective. This is especially true when looking to provide aid to the homeless population of the country, many of whom suffer from some form of mental health ailment but don’t own electronic devices. The distribution of technology like phones can make mental health services more available to a variety of people from a range of underserved communities.
One of the most difficult aspects of providing mental health services and resources to those from underserved populations is funding efforts and initiatives. The more people that these initiatives are able to help, the more expensive the undertaking will typically be. Thankfully, drawing upon local resources and community support can help fund these efforts in effective ways.
One local resource that can be tapped for these types of efforts is local businesses. These businesses can help provide funding for certain programs in exchange for advertising and the chance to communicate their values to the public.
In addition to businesses, communities can band together to engage in fundraisers that seek to raise a certain amount of money that helps provide mental health resources. It’s more than likely that many community members would be happy to support initiatives of this nature that help those in need.
While there are many amazing things that organizations and communities have the power to do to help those in need of mental health services, these possibilities typically pale in comparison to that which governments and large healthcare institutions can accomplish. This being the case, advocating for more equitable and accessible mental health care in America’s healthcare system is another way to mitigate the gap in access to this kind of care that those from underserved populations experience.
Advocating for this type of change in the healthcare system can be done in a number of different ways. Starting a local campaign is a low-barrier way to start spreading the message and getting more people aware of this issue. In this case, social media can be used as a ripe tool to get the attention of policy-makers and other political figures with the power to make significant changes in the healthcare system. Other ways of doing this include creating petitions and reaching out to local government bodies and expressing the need for change.
While mental health care used to be viewed by some as a luxury, today, more and more individuals are beginning to believe that access to mental health resources should be a right. In particular, underserved populations deserve access to the mental health resources they need in order to thrive and experience mental well-being.
Hopefully, as time goes on, more initiatives will be engaged in to help individuals from underserved populations to get the help that they need.