Pitt Community College addresses mental health awareness in African American community

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - A panel discussion Wednesday at Pitt Community College addressed mental health awareness and disparities in the African American community.

Mental health professionals shared data relating to types of mental illness, services, and stigmas associated with mental illness.

PCC Counselor Phylicia Bridgers said the panel discussion began a much needed conversation about mental health and she believes talking about it increases awareness and help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rates of mental illnesses in African Americans are similar with those of the general population. However, disparities exist in regard to mental health care services.

The CDC says African Americans often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally competent care. Counselors say without proper treatment, people often develop depression, low self-esteem, bi-polar disorder or many other mental health conditions.

Despite recent efforts to improve mental health services for African Americans and other minority groups, barriers remain regarding access to and quality of care, according to the CDC.

Barriers include:
• Stigma associated with mental illness
• Distrust of the health care system
• Lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds
• Lack of culturally competent providers
• Lack of insurance, underinsurance

Pitt Community College has mental health counseling services available and leaders encourage all students in need, to reach out for help.