In this one-hour panel discussion, our expert panelists highlighted the challenges youth often face when seeking mental health care and how these hurdles can impact their well-being. Specifically, they discussed the impact of stigma, the importance of culturally humble care, the role of schools in offering healthcare services, the power of music, and how to engage youth in boosting their health literacy.
Panelists included Olajide Williams, MD, MS, Founder and Board Member, Hip Hop Public Health; Travis Gayles, MD, Ph.D., Chief Health Officer, Hazel Health; and Lori Rose Benson, Executive Director and CEO, Hip Hop Public Health.
This blog covers the key themes discussed by the panelists throughout the webinar.
Recognizing and addressing common barriers
Several barriers hinder young people from accessing mental health care. Common barriers include recognizing the existence of a problem, reluctance to seek help, financial constraints in affording services, and the challenge of overcoming the stigma associated with seeking mental health support.
“It’s crucial to identify opportunities for conversations to de-stigmatize mental health discussions, similar to how we have progressed with physical health conversations.” - Lori Rose Benson
Addressing these barriers is possible through raising awareness, breaking down stigma, and implementing mental health services that adapt and scale to meet the needs of diverse communities.
Stigma awareness and the role of the household
Children start developing a sense of stigma related to mental health as young as six years old. Their views on seeking mental health care are molded by their environment and the reactions and experiences of those around them.
The home plays a crucial role as an initial learning environment, defining what is considered acceptable in addressing mental health issues. It significantly shapes a child's perception of seeking mental health support. The observations and cues young people pick up from the adults in their lives profoundly influence how they perceive seeking help and engaging in discussions about mental health.
Racism and mental health
Studies show that 1 in 5 African American 5th graders experience racism and discrimination. Racism and discrimination increase risk factors for anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more concentrated in communities facing socioeconomic hardship. ACEs often lead to a more significant burden of mental illness among children, manifesting as not only psychological issues but also physiological and epigenetic implications, such as alterations to the underlying DNA sequence, which potentially affects future generations.