Marginalized racial and ethnic groups in the United States face unique struggles when it comes to mental health. Systemic inequality and discrimination contribute to and exacerbate the factors driving poor mental health outcomes in these communities.
Marginalization, mental health challenges, and financial disadvantages combine to create a cycle that’s difficult to break. In honor of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re taking a closer look at how these issues intersect.
Marginalization and Mental Health
Mental health struggles affect people of all backgrounds. Marginalized groups, however, face unique challenges that can exacerbate these issues and create barriers to care. Across the board, marginalized folks are less likely to access mental healthcare, and receive poorer quality care when they do.
Historic and systemic inequities can keep Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other marginalized folks from accessing mental healthcare when they need it. This can include factors like lack of health insurance or transportation, high out-of-pocket costs, provider bias or discrimination, and cultural stigma surrounding mental health.
Moreover, a vast body of psychological data focuses disproportionately on white, affluent subjects. The psychology workforce itself is also predominantly white – from academic researchers to mental health professionals. This creates a gap between marginalized communities and resources intended to help folks manage mental health.
Lack of diversity among therapists and fear of discrimination may keep BIPOC and other marginalized folks from seeking mental healthcare. Those who do seek help receive care skewed by a narrow understanding of the human mind – which often does not fully consider the unique experiences, needs, and cultural backgrounds of people from diverse communities.
Marginalization and Financial Inequity
Mental healthcare is just one place marginalized groups face barriers to greater wellbeing. Wealth is also vastly unequally distributed in the United States. In fact, the average white family’s wealth is eight and five times higher than the average Black or Hispanic family, respectively.
Homeownership is strongly correlated with the capacity to build generational wealth. The racial wealth divide can be attributed in part to historical injustices like redlining and credit discrimination. But even today, BIPOC borrowers are denied mortgages at higher rates than white borrowers with similar down payments and credit profiles, which is why it’s important to research mortgage options.
Marginalized groups also face financial barriers in education and lifetime earnings. Black households, for instance, assume more student loan debt to pay for higher education. And Black and Hispanic workers receive lower median pay than their white counterparts, regardless of education.
Wealth allows households to weather financial emergencies and invest in income-generating opportunities. Centuries of discriminatory policies have created financial disadvantages that hinder the economic mobility of marginalized folks – and these effects can span generations.
These disadvantages compound and exacerbate one another
Systemic mental health and financial inequities don’t exist in a vacuum. They interact, creating a cycle that’s difficult to break free of. Consider this: Americans list money as their number one stressor. Stress is linked to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression – and even physical health issues like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Financial disadvantages don’t just increase stress, they worsen mental health outcomes. Of people with mental health issues and debt, 86% say their debt negatively impacts their mental health. Mental health also impacts earning and money management – and folks experiencing mental health problems are 3.5x more likely to be in problem debt than those without.
Mental Health Resources for Marginalized Communities
BIPOC and other marginalized groups face challenges often overlooked or underserved by conventional mental healthcare. Fortunately, a growing body of mental health resources exists to serve the distinct and diverse needs of these communities.
Apps and Social Media
The Sage Place: a free smartphone app focused on self-care and mental health for marginalized folks, particularly the Black community
Liberate: a smartphone app for meditation designed for and led by BIPOC individuals
Our finances touch every aspect of our lives, and our credit scores are at the center of it all. Due to a myriad of inequities, many BIPOC Americans have no credit or low credit scores. It’s harder to build credit with poor or non-existent credit, which creates a cycle that perpetuates poverty and wealth inequality.
With StellarFi, anyone can build credit without a credit card or increasing their debt. Simply sign up and link monthly expenses like your rent, phone bill, or even your gym membership. StellarFi operates behind the scenes so the bills you pay can raise your credit score.
Everyone deserves Stellar credit
Millions of Americans pay their bills on time, but they’re rarely factored into a credit score. If they were, more folks would have great credit – and could tap into the economic benefits.