By Roger Caldwell
Mental health disparities have been prominent with African Americans and other minorities since the beginning of this great nation. Mental health is a public health problem, and many Blacks and minorities are in a state of social helplessness and desperation in finding treatment in certain communities. There is a negative perception about mental illness, and health in general and there is a need to remove barriers with more education. Dr. Eugenia Agard is a strong advocate for mental health in Central Florida, and in Osceola County, where her private practice “HUGS”-(Healing Understanding Guiding Supportive Services) is located.
According to the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency department, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental care access and quality of care contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.
It is very difficult for anyone to discuss mental health, and even more so during a global pandemic. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and other signs of stress become more pronounced, when you have unprecedented unemployment, and no one knows how long these conditions will last. In 2017, 3.5 million young adults age 18 to 25 had serious thoughts of suicide, and in 2017, 2.5 million young adults age 18 to 25 had serious mental illness, according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health services Administration.
Between a stigma about mental health, and a lack of access to treatment, many minorities may find it difficult to get the help they need. There are no quick fixes to mental illness and mental health in 2020. “It is time for all people and especially those of color, to perform a mental health check-in, if you feel it, say it and now act on it, and seek support. It is time to journey towards our healing,” says Dr. Agard.
“Minorities are really stressing, they were stressing before, and now there’s an extra level of stress when we look at COVID, when we look at police brutality, when we look at the things that are going on in our nation,” says Monica Sparks – Kent County Commissioner.
Dr. Eugenia Agard is offering Telehealth Services for those who are experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression as we face a worldwide health crisis. She has made a commitment to help frontline essential workers with Free Virtual Healing Hugs Telehealth sessions. For more information call 407-791-1900, or email Eugeniaagard4hugs@gmail.com.