CHICAGO – During National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month this July, state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly, D-Chicago, is drawing attention to disparities minority communities face accessing mental health care and calling for an end to unequal mental health care access.

“For far too long, minority communities have lacked equal access to mental health care treatment,” Lilly said. “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing reckoning with the traumatic effects of racism in recent months have only given more urgency to the need for ensuring equal access to mental health resources.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), major reasons for disparities in access to mental health care treatment include bias and discrimination in treatment settings, a lack of providers in minority communities, and insufficient numbers of providers that speak languages other than English for language minorities. Other barriers that impact the ability of minorities to receive equitable mental health care services include a lack of equitable transportation and a higher likelihood of working in jobs that make it difficult to take time off or find childcare.

Lilly is urging mental health care providers to adopt solutions recommended by the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity. These solutions for addressing minority mental health disparities include recruiting and retaining diverse providers that reflect local demographics, instituting cultural competence and anti-bias training, and developing community partnerships with organizations outside of the health care field in order help raise awareness of services.

“There are concrete steps that mental health care providers can take today to help end unequal access to treatment for minorities. I’m calling on mental health care providers to commit themselves to ensuring that all people have access to mental health care resources and treatment,” Lilly said. “As I’ve often said, ‘If you don’t have your health, you don’t have much else,’ and that is as true for mental health as it is for physical health.”

Rep. Camille Y LillyRep. Camille Y Lilly

78th District

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Springfield Office:
200-8S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-6400
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District Office:
6937 W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
(773) 473-7300