FOCUS: Mental healthcare fields fail to foster diversity

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the present-day mental health field lacks diversity. Considering the multitudinous backgrounds of individuals struggling with mental health problems, there is a need for diverse workers in the mental health field.

According to SCHS Wellness Coordinator, Uwey Belletto, diversity is an important part of the mental health industry. The lack of diversity in the mental health field she observed inspired her to work in the mental healthcare field as an Asian American individual.

“I really needed somebody with an Asian American background just because of a lot of the customs and expectations and pressures and family dynamics that could be hard for someone (not of my ethnicity) to understand,” Belletto said. “Even though I think people (not of my ethnicity) could understand it, I just kind of thought it would be easier with somebody that just came from my same background.”

Sophomore Julia Daroczi, agrees that diversity is important in the mental healthcare field, despite not having a preference when receiving help from someone.

“Some people probably want to talk to someone who is like them about their mental health,” Daroczi said. “They want someone to relate to and someone who understands most of their individual problems.”

In favor of more diversity in the mental health field, junior Kyran Warren finds that minorities often struggle with mental health.

“African American people have to deal with negative actions from others and just racism in general,” Warren said. “The LGBTQ community also receives feedback from other people which affects their mental health.”

Belletto has also observed that while one’s background may be important, many people look for other aspects in mental health workers to determine whether they are comfortable with them or not.

“Some people really don’t care about the worker’s background,” Belletto said. “It’s more about ‘What connection do I feel to this person? Do I feel safe with that person?’’’

Freshman Katelynn Ng said people face mental health problems that vary depending on their backgrounds and present environments.

“For example, if someone is in a country where the majority of their community is of a different ethnicity, then the individual may feel isolated from their peers, or different,” Ng said. “Also, someone’s gender may impact one’s mental health because of the different biases different genders face.”

Freshman Heidi Beltran believes that while race and gender are both primary factors in a person’s mental health, money also contributes to people’s mental wellness. CNBC reported that money problems negatively impact 42% of Americans’ mental health.

“The less wealthy a person is, the more problems they face and the more they struggle with their personal mental health,” Beltran said. “People who are poorer tend to have less access to literally every necessity of a good life. They can’t afford good studying resources, colleges and even basics like food and shelter, which definitely damage people’s overall mental health.”

As a South Asian student, senior Prateek Kundu feels that the mental well-being of men is commonly disregarded in Asian households.

“I think (a stigma against mental health) is very prominent in Asian cultures. In my own experience, as I am Asian-Indian, it’s frowned upon for males to receive mental health (treatments) and counseling.” Kundu said. “(We’re expected) to just ‘Get through it’ and ‘Do it for the family’ and they would basically gaslight you into not getting treated for your mental health.”

Belletto noted that after decades of discrimination toward all sorts of minorities, the mental health industry is finally trying to prioritize and include minorities.

“A lot of psychotherapy and mental health is rooted in a more Anglo-Saxon male view…” Belletto said. “That ideology is really starting to disappear, and the question of ‘How do we treat, honor and incorporate other cultures and ethnicities and backgrounds into mental health and have a wider and wider way of treatment and support in the mental health field?’ is being considered more often.”