Elimination of health disparities

Priority: Eliminate disparities in mental health status and mental health care through the use of psychological and behavioral research and services that are culturally and linguistically competent

To understand disparities, just look at the data on one measure: suicide.

According to a 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet, suicide is the second leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 15 to 34. In fact, their suicide rate is more than double the national average for that age group. Hispanic girls are also at high risk. Hispanic girls in grades 9 to 12 reported almost twice as many suicide attempts as their non-Hispanic white peers.

Disparities also exist when it comes to mental health care. Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive the care they need, the surgeon general found. They're also more likely to receive poor quality care.

By providing culturally and linguistically competent care, psychologists can help reduce and ultimately eliminate mental health disparities.

  • Ethnic-minority providers. APA's Minority Fellowship Program has supported more than 1,300 trainees, with more than 600 earning doctoral degrees.
  • Research. Psychologists are working hard to understand the specific mental health needs of various populations. At the Asian American Center on Disparities Research at the University of California in Davis, researchers are investigating the cultural factors that influence the effectiveness of mental health treatment.