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Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations

Racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities often suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to multiple factors including inaccessibility of high quality mental health care services, cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and overall lack of awareness about mental health.

The following factsheets provide a snapshot of the current state of mental health of minority populations and some factors that may contribute to mental health disparities among these groups.

Mental Health Facts for Diverse Populations

Most racial/ethnic minority groups overall have similar — or in some cases, fewer — mental disorders than whites. However, the consequences of mental illness in minorities may be long lasting.

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Mental Health Facts for African Americans

Rates of mental illnesses in African Americans are similar with those of the general population. However, disparities exist in regard to mental health care services.

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Mental Health Facts for American Indian/Alaska Natives

Research indicates that American Indian/Alaska Native populations have disproportionately higher rates of mental health problems than the general US population. Some of these mental health problems have been directly linked to the intergenerational historical trauma forced upon this population.

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Mental Health Facts for Appalachian People

Appalachian people experience disproportionately adverse living conditions, when compared to the nation. Appalachian counties are over-represented in the nation's worst quintile for four of the five measures of social determinants of health.

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Mental Health Facts for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders

Research shows that 2.7 million Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders have a mental and/or substance use disorder (SUD). But several cultural and structural barriers prevent Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders from accessing mental health services.

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Mental Health Facts for Bisexual Populations

Bisexual individuals are at increased risk of adverse health outcomes (e.g., mental health, substance use, and sexual health problems) compared with monosexual (heterosexual and gay/lesbian) individuals. Though there are several reasons for these disparities, a significant contributor is a stress that is related to stigma and discrimination.

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Mental Health Facts for Gay Populations

Gay men experience adverse mental health outcomes including mood disorders, substance use and suicide more frequently than heterosexual men. They also face additional barriers to accessing mental health treatment.

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Mental Health Facts for Hispanics and Latinos/as

While many Hispanics/Latinos have lived in the U.S. for many generations, others are recent immigrants who are at risk of facing inequities in socioeconomic status, education, and access to mental health care services.

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Mental Health Facts for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ)

LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime.

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Mental Health Facts for Muslim Americans

Nearly one-third of Muslim Americans perceived discrimination in healthcare settings; being excluded or ignored was the most frequently conveyed type of discrimination. Religious discrimination against Muslims is associated with depression, anxiety, subclinical paranoia, and alcohol use.

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Mental Health Facts on Questioning/Queer Populations

When applied in an affirming manner, queer is often used as an umbrella term to describe sexual orientation or gender identity that does not conform to dominant societal norms (e.g., straight/heterosexual and cisgender). Like other minority groups, including the LGBT community, questioning and queer people are often misunderstood, overlooked, and underrepresented in the health care system and societal institutions (e.g., media).

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Mental Health Facts for Refugees, Asylum-seekers, and Survivors of Forced Displacement

Worldwide, over 65 million persons are currently displaced by war, armed conflict, or persecution, the majority of whom are located in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Globally, half of the refugees live in unstable and insecure situations.

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Mental Health Facts for Women

Research has identified disparities between women and men in regard to risk, prevalence, presentation, course, and treatment of mental disorders.

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