Categories: Blog, LINK

by admin


Categories: Blog, LINK

by admin



A Look at Black Mental Health

• February 2023 •

From Juan Navarro, Executive Director
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Executive Director’s Message: A Look at Black Mental Health

In February, L.A. CADA celebrates Black History Month to recognize the important role African Americans play in behavioral health in the United States, both past and present. Mental illness affects one in four Americans. However, the historical Black experience in America has and continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for their White counterparts. This impacts the emotional and mental health of both youth and adults. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports:

  • 16% of Black Americans reported having a mental illness, and 22.4% reported a serious mental illness.
  • Adult Blacks are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites.
  • Serious mental illness (SMI) rose among all ages of Black people between 2008 and 2018.
  • Major depressive episodes increased from 9% to 10% in Black  youth ages 12 to 17, 6.1% to 9.4% in young adults 18 to 25, and 5.7% to 6.3% in the 26 to 49 age range between 2015 and 2018.
  • Binge drinking, smoking (cigarettes and marijuana), illicit drug use and prescription pain reliever misuse are more frequent among Black adults with mental illnesses.
  • The CDC reports that 44.5% of Black people reported mental health distress during the COVID pandemic as compared to 39% of whites.

Charles McWells, Director of L.A. CADA’s program in South Los Angeles says, “The individuals we serve here in South L.A. are more prone to not seek out mental health services as compared to other communities. Historically, Black people have mistrusted medical providers because of the systemic racism they have been subject to. At L.A. CADA, we’re working every day to gain our community’s trust and reduce stigma related to mental health services.”

L.A. CADA also works to break down other barriers to behavioral healthcare for Black people in L.A. County, including a lack of Black behavioral health specialists. As a healthcare administrator, I’m proud of the achievements that L.A. CADA’s Black staff and their allies have made in bringing evidence-based care to the communities we serve in Los Angeles County.

Learn about: Lil Wayne’s Struggle with Black Mental Health

Client's Corner

Carl R.

“My name is Carl and yeah, I’m in recovery from . . . you name it, alcohol, drugs, the criminal life, unemployment, depression, all that.  It got me to a real low point. Bottom line, I tried to hang myself. Surprise. I wasn’t good at much and it turns out I wasn’t good at suicide neither. But that was a real good thing — it woke me up to the reality of my life.  In the hospital, I asked a doctor how could I find hope, so I could have something to live for. He didn’t have any answers for me, “you just hang in there”. After a minute they sent up a counselor who was in A.A. and his answer was “The Program”.  I didn’t know what that was, but I sure found out.  I went in a recovery home where everyone there was like me, searching for some hope. I’m telling you right now following a program gives you that hope. And health, peers, and a higher power to believe in. It gives you steps to follow – that’s the strength we need for recovery. Now I’m a different person. I can face anything now because I have hope.”


CLAS National Standards in Health and Healthcare

There is compelling need to reduce disparities in behavioral health care in communities across America.  The lack of health equity adversely affects our neighborhoods, communities, and the broader society – making the issue not only an individual concern but also a public health problem. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services are  widely recognized as effective in improving the quality of healthcare and services (Beach et al., 2004; Goode et al., 2006).

In 2000, the U.S. Office of Minority Health released the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care or CLAS Standards. They provide a guideline for improving services via a blueprint for health and healthcare organizations to implement culturally relevant services.

The principal CLAS standard is: Provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs. 

This evidence-based practice can be implemented by:  

  • Engaging community members in the design and furnishing of program spaces to  promote a welcoming and culturally respectful environment;
  • Developing strategies to collect authentic public input that includes the immigrant community;
  • Developing multiple communication channels to engage community members;
  • Engaging local-level leadership to promote and support CLAS Standards at the program and community level;
  • Developing and implementing a sustainability plan that includes annual evaluation of CLAS competencies, policies, and practices;
  • Establishing regularly scheduled CLAS trainings and professional development; and
  • Posting CLAS Standards in public areas to inform clients of their rights and the agency’s commitment to them.

Watch: CLAS Standards in Action


Subscribe to our free newsletter.

Don’t have an account yet? Get started with a 12-day free trial

Related Posts