Mental disorders are among the major problems facing the health sector in America and across the world in the contemporary society. Mental disorders stem from existing or non existence of internal emotional and psychological threats from which the individual lacks the mechanisms for control. Stress and stress related problems have been attributed as the major causes of mental illnesses which range from depressive disorders, dementia, schizophrenia, and dysthymic disorders among others.
Mental disorders and depression are the leading causes of reduced mortality among the American population (Dunlop et al, 2003).The epidemic has constantly raised concerns and has been progressively worsening over the years. The minority groups in America are among adversely affected by depressive disorders relative to the whites.
Stress and stress related conditions acts as a catalyst to development of most mental disorders. In 1996, a survey conducted by prevention magazine revealed that 75% of American adults are subjected to stress causing situations on weekly basis while the number of people estimated to seek medical assistance as a result of stress and stress related problems ranges between 75 and 90%. Stress and stress related problems are more prevalent among the American adult population. However, stress levels among the elderly, children, teenagers and young adults has been escalating over the years. In our case, we look at stress and depression prevalence among the ethnic minorities in American population.
A study conducted on elderly people of ethnic minorities living in inner city Liverpool through a survey carried out using Geriatric Mental State Examination and ethnically matched interviewers revealed that elderly people from ethnic minority groups are at a higher risk of suffering from dementia and depression (McCracken et al, 1997). The study revealed that the prevalence of dementia among English speaking ethnic groups was relatively similar while the levels of dementia prevalence were higher among non English speaking ethnic communities was higher and was attributed to language barriers(McCracken et al, 1997). Depression cases were more recorded among black Africans (McCracken et al, 1997).
Depression occurring especially at late stages of life is fatal as it is associated with reduced mortality and chronic disabilities which interact with other physical illnesses in the body to cause premature deaths (Dunlop et al, 2007). Mental disorders may be common among ethnic minority groups in America as well as the white population. However, studies reveal that mental disorders are common among minority ethnic groups in the country (Dunlop et al, 2003). Depressive disorders affect an approximate 9.5% of the American population in any given year and the complications ranges from depressive disorders, dysthymic disorders, schizophrenia among others (Murray & Fortinberry, 2005)
Factors promoting higher prevalence of depression among the minority groups
Depression disorders stem from general fear of hopelessness, loneliness, among other emotional forces that an individual lacks the ability to adapt to. Ethnic and racial minorities mostly live under hardship conditions. They live in a social economic situation that constitutes widespread racism, discrimination, violence and impoverished conditions (Patel & Rushefsky, 2008). Consequently, they are more likely than white Americans to experience mental illness due to their lower strata in terms of income, education and general living conditions in comparison with white Americans. The minority groups have limited resources which limit their ability to access improved health care and living conditions making them more vulnerable to stress and depression related conditions.
Further, higher depression rates among the minority groups are associated with the health burden and lack of health insurance (Patel & Rushefsky, 2008). The safety providers in the country limit the ability of the minority groups from acquiring health insurance through disproportionate distribution of health care. According to Patel and Rushefsky (2008), “African Americans have less access to mental health facilities partly due to lack of health insurance”. Further, African Americans are half as likely as the whites to acquire health insurance. In 1999, 23% of the African American population lacked health insurance compared to 14% of the white population (Patel & Rushefsky, 2008).
Cases of depression among the minority groups are further proven by the prevalent self distract among the minority youth. Among the black teenagers, the rates of suicide had doubled since the 1980s (Patel & Rushefsky). This can be attributed to drug related problems, violence, and child abuse among other negative factors prevalent in their environment.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Depression and other mental related disorders are fatal and cause devastating health effects on the victims. The government should therefore take the necessary precautions to ensure that the health sector effectively manages the situation. The government has made remarkable improvement through establishment of special programs such as Medicaid and Medicare which provide health coverage for minority groups.
However, it should establish measures to protect the minority groups from discrimination in health services as well as formulating policies that aim at improving their living standards. In addition, teen counseling programs should be promoted to prevent the escalating suicide rates among the teenage minorities which may be partly attributed to mental disorders.
Dunlop, D.D., Song, J., Lyons, S.J., Manheim, M.L., and Chang, W.R (2003). Racial ethnic differences among preretirement adults, American journal of public health. Web.
McCracken, C.F.M., Boneham, J.R.M., Copeland, K.E., Williams, K., Wilson, A., Scott, P., McKibbin and Cleave, N. (1997). Prevalence of dementia among and depression among in black and ethnic minorities. Web.
Murray, B., and Fortinberry, A. (2005). Depression facts and statistics, uplift program. Web.
Patel, K., Rushefsky, M. E. (2008). Healthcare in America: separate and unequal, NY: M.E Sharpe.