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Experts Discuss Barriers, Stigma Around Mental Health In Black Community

Armen Hareyan's picture

The two-day Breaking the Silence conference in Philadelphia aimed toaddress an "often hidden and still taboo topic within theAfrican-American community: mental illness and the dangers of nottreating it," the Philadelphia Inquirerreports. About 2,000 participants attended the conference, which endedSaturday and featured panel discussions on behavioral health moderatedby prominent members of academia, the media and entertainment. Thefirst such conference was held in 1997.

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State Sen. VincentHughes (D), who helped raise funds to hold the conference, said, "Thereis not a community not impacted by the stigma, but it's much more of anacute issue and problem within the African-American community." Headded, "Many in the community operate under the lack of insurance toget care, and for those who have insurance there are barriers togetting care. Those walls prevent a lot of people from getting help."

Hughesalso discussed the cost of not treating mental illness, saying, "If youdon't confront these issues at an early stage, then they can grow tobecome very significant down the line. The cost of not treating thislack of wellness is billions of dollars (more) in treatment and carethan if it was treated in a much more open environment" (Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.