eISSN: 2450-5722
ISSN: 2450-5927
Journal of Health Inequalities
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vol. 7
Special paper

Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in behavioral healthcare in the United States

Hoa Appel
Phuoc D. Nguyen
2, 2
Kelly Bang

University of Washington Bothell, United States
Des Moines Medical College, United States
J Health Inequal 2021; 7 (1) 52–56
Online publish date: 2021/06/17
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This article discusses individual and systemic barriers to accessing behavioral healthcare, tailoring the examination to the specific needs of Asian Americans (AAs). Some barriers include language barriers, lack of access to behavioral health care, and providers that may not be culturally sensitive to patients’ needs. These barriers lead to the underuse of health services and worse mental health outcomes. AAs are said to be the “model minority,” a term most often to describe Chinese Americans, East Asians or Southeastern Asians. This is a myth; AAs with behavioral health needs encounter numerous barriers. Among the barriers are health insurance coverage, especially Medicaid expansion, which is not available in every state. Also, healthcare workers and providers are not always prepared to treat behavioral health needs in their primary care practice. This paper highlights the need to further investigate these topics in order to help eliminate the disparities that still exist in our growing populations of racial and ethnic minorities from the standpoint of healthcare practitioners in their practices.

Asian Americans now comprise the largest growing minority group in the United States (US). Asian Americans include all those that may be born in any Asian countries, or born in the US to parents who are not native English speakers. However, there remains insufficient comprehensive discussion and action to reduce the barriers to behavioral healthcare they face. It is important to tailor an all-inclusive agenda with the purpose of eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in behavioral healthcare for AAs in the US.

Asian American, model minority, health insurance, mental health, behavioral health, health disparity

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