Racism and Mental Health
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, now also called BIPOC Mental Health Month. This month is an opportunity to reflect on some of the unique challenges and needs that people of color experience regarding mental health and discuss what we can do to address disparities in care.
Systemic racism and everyday racism (like microaggressions) take a toll on the mental health of people of color. Stressors like ongoing housing segregation, racism in healthcare settings, violence and over-policing are significant contributors to disparities in mental health and access to quality care in BIPOC communities.
While disparities in mental health were a serious concern before the Covid-19 pandemic, the urgency and prevalence of mental health conditions among people of color have increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.
TRULY Inclusive CARE
Of course, while disparities and the traumatic impact of racism are significant, they’re not the whole picture. Individuals and communities of color have many cultural and relational resources. Inclusive, racially and culturally informed care that affirms these strengths is essential to ensuring that everyone in our community can get effective and holistic support.
At Wellpoint, we strive to bring our commitment to equity and inclusion into all of our services. We seek to support the whole person, using our Five Pillars of Stability framework to help people meet their basic needs while identifying existing resources in their lives.
We also strive to be anti-racist in how we provide care, and understand how internalized, interpersonal and institutional racism can impact our relationships with clients if they are left unaddressed. And while it’s a journey, we have committed to being a resource and not another obstacle in the lives of people in our community.
The Power of Shared Experience
One way we are addressing disparities is by ensuring that more of our staff reflect the people we serve, including racial and ethnic identity, primary language, and other aspects of identity like gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Shared experience can reduce or remove pressure on clients to explain details of their identity and allow them to focus on fully expressing themselves, which is important for effective care.
Wellpoint has committed to hiring and retention practices that support mental health professionals from diverse backgrounds. We know that this is bigger than having a diverse workforce alone; it is about doing everything we can to serve our clients as effectively as possible.
Reducing Barriers to Care
Wellpoint aims to make mental health care as accessible as possible. Our outpatient clinic offers both onsite and telehealth options, and accepts BadgerCare to help meet the need for providers serving lower-income clients. No one is turned away because of their inability to pay for services.
We also offer community-based services beyond the clinic, like our Project Thrive partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Community programs allow us to meet children and their families in places where they already feel comfortable. For our families involved with the child welfare system, we work with a network of diverse providers to support access to additional resources in a variety of cultural contexts.
Learn more about our approach to inclusive, Trauma Informed Care and the mental health services we provide.