Mental Health Care Providers in the Washington DC Metro Area

An Overview of How They’re Serving Younger People of Color

According to one recent study, during the first year of the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide rates of anxiety and depression increased by an enormous 25%. This was especially evident in major metropolitan areas like Washington, DC. Here, it was estimated that roughly 19.32% of the population have some type of mental illness. It also ranks in last place in terms of areas with high dependence on, or the abuse of, illegal drugs and alcohol.

But when studies like these are published, most of the data is geared towards the adult population. How do mental health care providers in an area like Washington, DC offer proper care to not only younger people, but particularly to teenagers of color? The answers to questions like those require you to keep a few key things in mind.

The Washington DC Mental Health Industry: Breaking Things Down

Indeed, most experts agree that the mental health system in not just Washington, DC, but in the entire country, is geared towards adults. When young people, and particularly those who are a part of communities of color, fail to see the results that are expected, they are deemed “noncompliant.” In reality, it may be that they are being failed by a system that was never designed to serve them in the first place.

Another study indicated that out of communities of color, African Americans had a higher use of prescription medication when compared with Hispanic people – with 6.5% for the former and 5.7% for the latter. Yet at the same time, this differed from the frequency at which people used inpatient mental health services. An estimated 1.1% of African Americans utilized such services, whereas only 0.8% of Hispanics did the same; 0.7% of white adults utilized them, while 0.6% of Asian adults did as well.

All of this demands the question: what reasonable conclusions can be extrapolated from data points such as these? First, especially in an area like Washington, DC, mental health providers can often feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle. When an estimated 453,000 adults have at least mild mental illness, you’re clearly dealing with a serious situation. Everything going on in the world right now has only made things worse, not better.

But secondly, the most underserved segment of the population isn’t just young people – it’s teenagers of color in particular. They’re the ones who statistically lean on these services the most, and the system itself is not quite set up to support them. Hopefully, this is something that changes in a positive way over the next few years and beyond.

If you’d like to find out more information about the current state of mental health services in the Washington, DC area as they relate to their ability to treat younger people of color, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, click this link to the Washington, DC Department of Behavioral Health website.

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