Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Mental Health Care

Published January 2021

The Psychiatric Services Editor’s Choice provides essential curated collections from recent issues of Psychiatric Services.  Each month, Editor Lisa Dixon and the Early Career Psychiatrist Advisory Committee offer a curated collection from the rich resource of articles published in the journal. Updates will focus on one area, summarizing for the researcher, clinician, and policy analyst the latest information and seminal research with links to specific content from Psychiatric Services.

Issues of racism and social injustice have finally captured the attention of the academic community, following the international outrage and protest against racism in response to the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people. In addition to these appalling episodes of police violence and vigilantism, the COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed racial-ethnic inequities as evidenced by the disproportionate morbidity and mortality of Black, Latinx, indigenous, and other persons of color. Many academic journals are wrestling with how to respond to the current “syndemic” of anti-Black racism and the COVID-19 pandemic and have issued a call to action for all those involved in research, clinical care, and education.

In June 2019, prior to the groundswell of support for scholarly work focused on health disparities, Psychiatric Services curated an Editor’s Choice collection on racial-ethnic mental health disparities. This original collection focused on characterizing the problem, financial considerations, quality of care received, and proposed solutions. Given the importance of this topic, with renewed attention and global priority, we updated this collection to highlight publications within the past 2 years that center on additional topics, including experiences of mental illness in other vulnerable populations, such as sexual minorities, youths, and those involved in the carceral system; barriers related to accessing mental health services among people of color; and thoughtful solutions to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities. We encourage readers to listen to our Psychiatric Services From Pages to Practice podcast (Episode 36, August 2020), where we discuss factors contributing to these ongoing disparities and critically analyze ways to move forward. The field of psychiatry cannot move forward without deliberate scholarship and action in the realm of social justice. We invite our colleagues to commit to this work and engage in the conversation; to start, we offer a few curated items to delve into the nuances related to racial and ethnic disparities in mental health.

Please note that not all articles in this curated collection are available without a subscription. For access, learn about subscribing to Psychiatric Services.


Psychiatric Symptoms and Diagnoses Among U.S. College Students: A Comparison by Race and Ethnicity
Justin A. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., Courtney Stevens, Ph.D., Sylvia H. M. Wong, Ed.M., Cindy H. Liu, Ph.D.
2019, Volume 70, Issue 6, pp. 442–449

Factors Associated With Use of Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment Services by Justice-Involved Youths
Juliet C. Yonek, Ph.D., Emily F. Dauria, Ph.D., Kathleen Kemp, Ph.D., Daphne Koinis-Mitchell, Ph.D., Brandon D. L. Marshall, Ph.D., Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D.
2019, Volume 70, Issue 7, pp. 586–595

Evidence for Differential Predictive Performance of the Prime Screen Between Black and White Help-Seeking Youths
Zachary B. Millman, M.A., Pamela J. Rakhshan Rouhakhtar, M.A., Jordan E. DeVylder, Ph.D., Melissa E. Smith, Ph.D., Peter L. Phalen, Psy.D., Scott W. Woods, M.D., Barbara C. Walsh, Ph.D., Brittany Parham, Ph.D., Gloria M. Reeves, M.D., Jason Schiffman, Ph.D.
2019, Volume 70, Issue 10, pp. 907–914

Racial-Ethnic Differences in Service Use Patterns Among Young, Commercially Insured Individuals With Recent-Onset Psychosis
Els van der Ven, Ph.D., Ezra Susser, M.D., Dr.P.H., Lisa B. Dixon, M.D., M.P.H., Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., Todd P. Gilmer, Ph.D.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp. 433–439

A Qualitative Investigation of Engagement in Mental Health Services Among Black and Hispanic LGB Young Adults
Kiara L. Moore, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., Lucy Lopez, B.A., David Camacho, Ph.D., M.S.W., Michelle R. Munson, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 6, pp. 555–561

Differential Incarceration by Race-Ethnicity and Mental Health Service Status in the Los Angeles County Jail System
Oona Appel, Psy.D., Dustin Stephens, M.D., Ph.D., Sonya M. Shadravan, M.D., Justin Key, M.D., Kristen Ochoa, M.D., M.P.H.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 8, pp. 843–846

Disparities in Mental Health Care Utilization and Perceived Need Among Asian Americans: 2012–2016
Kelly Guanhua Yang, B.S., Caryn R. R. Rodgers, Ph.D., Esther Lee, B.A., Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D., M.P.H.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp. 21–27

The Role of County Characteristics in Mental Health Service Use by Older African Americans
Kyeongmo Kim, Ph.D., Amanda J. Lehning, Ph.D., Paul Sacco, Ph.D.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp. 465–471

A Systematic Review of Interventions to Improve Initiation of Mental Health Care Among Racial-Ethnic Minority Groups
Su Yeon Lee-Tauler, Ph.D., John Eun, B.A., Dawn Corbett, M.P.H., Pamela Y. Collins, M.D., M.P.H.
2018, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp. 628–647

Provider Contributions to Disparities in Mental Health Care
Kritzia Merced, M.S., Zac E. Imel, Ph.D., Scott A. Baldwin, Ph.D., Heidi Fischer, Ph.D., Tae Yoon, M.S., Christine Stewart, Ph.D., Greg Simon, M.D., M.P.H., Brian Ahmedani, Ph.D., Arne Beck, Ph.D., Yihe Daida, Ph.D., Sam Hubley, Ph.D., Rebecca Rossom, M.D., Beth Waitzfelder, Ph.D., John E. Zeber, Ph.D., Karen J. Coleman, Ph.D.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 8, pp. 765–771

Improving Service Coordination and Reducing Mental Health Disparities Through Adoption of Electronic Health Records
Brian McGregor, Ph.D., Dominic Mack, M.D., M.B.A., Glenda Wrenn, M.D., M.S.H.P., Ruth S. Shim, M.D., M.P.H., Kisha Holden, Ph.D., M.S.C.R., David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D.
2015, Volume 66, Issue 9, pp. 985–987

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Treatment and Treatment Type for Depression in a National Sample of Medicaid Recipients
Brian McGregor, M.A., Ph.D., Chaohua Li, M.P.H., Peter Baltrus, Ph.D., Megan Douglas, J.D., Jammie Hopkins, Dr.P.H., M.S., Glenda Wrenn, M.D., M.S.H.P., Kisha Holden, Ph.D., M.S.C.R., Ebony Respress, M.S.P.H., Anne Gaglioti, M.D., M.S.
2020, Volume 71, Issue 7, pp. 663–669

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