At Foundation 2 Crisis Services, we strive to be a trusted support when life gets tough for every person – regardless of their background or experiences.

Mental illness does not discriminate, but we acknowledge that race impacts the perception of mental health, cultivated attitudes toward mental health, access to providers, and more. During Black History Month this February, we highlight these discrepancies and encourage you to learn more to help further the conversation toward equal access to care.

Societal Barriers, Attitudes & Access

Historical adversity, including slavery and race-based exclusion, continues to translate into socioeconomic disparities, including higher rates of poverty, fewer insured households, and more single parent households for Black Americans. [1]

As of 2018, more than 1 in 5 Black and African American people in America lived in poverty, a socioeconomic factor that can decrease the access to mental health care. Black and African American people living below the poverty line are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living over 2x the poverty level [2].

“Despite progress made over the years, racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of Black and African American people. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection have decreased, but continue to occur with measurable, adverse consequences,” according to Mental Health America. “Historical and contemporary instances of negative treatment have led to a mistrust of authorities, many of whom are not seen as having the best interests of Black and African Americans in mind.” [1]

According to a study, Black and African American adults also “often hold beliefs related to stigma, psychological openness, and help-seeking, which in turn affects their coping behaviors.” Black and African American men are particularly concerned about the stigma of having a mental illness or receiving mental health care. [3]

Learn more about the social determinants of health and mental health care with Mental Health America.

Steps in the Right Direction

Understanding the historical and current situation and barriers to mental health care can help move toward a better future. At Foundation 2, we participated in a 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge organization-wide to help educate employees and continue productive conversations.

We encourage you to seek out Black mental health voices and resources to learn more. Integrate a weekly podcast into your routine. Read blogs and books. Talk with family and friends about what you learn and how you can help create forward progress.

Together, we can be a trusted support when life gets tough for all people. See the resources with this article to get started!


[1] Mental Health America. (2019) Black and African American Communities and Mental Health. Retrieved from

[2] CDC. (2018). Health United States, 2017. Table 46. Retrieved from

[3] Ward, E. C., Wiltshire, J. C., Detry, M. A., & Brown, R. L. (2013). African American men and women’s attitude toward mental illness, perceptions of stigma, and preferred coping behaviors. Nursing Research >, 62 >(3), 185-194. doi:10.1097/NNR.0b013e31827bf533

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