The Mental Health of Ethnic Minority Groups

The research paper “The Mental Health of Ethnic Minority Groups: Challenges Posted by the Supplement to surgeon’s General Report on Mental Health” discusses the problems that ethnic minority groups with mental problems face. Stanley Sue and June Chu, the authors of the article, stress that in contrast to conclusions posed by the Supplement, evidence shows that ethnic minority groups face discrimination when accessing medicine with mental problems. Moreover, the differences in treatment are not fully justified by inequalities and disparities in mental health services.

The key finding is that acculturation is the most important factor that shapes the differences. For example, African Americans are not prevailed because of long history of discrimination and prejudice, whereas Mexican Americans are negatively influenced by acculturation. Acculturation is argued to be positively related to mental health of Asian Americans. The authors stress that mental health plays crucial role in overall productivity as it is the basis for successful contribution to society, professional life and family.

Mental health affects thinking and communication skills, self-esteem, learning, and resilience. Disparities in health treatment outcomes are well-documented and situation is not encouraging. When researching the problem, the author has drawn four hypotheses: 1. Prevalence of mental disorders is associated with race and ethnicity. For example, African Americans are characterized by the lowest rates, whereas Indian Americans and Alaska Islanders are characterized by higher prevalence rates.

Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans and Mexican Americans are characterized by the same rate as African-Americans. 2. The differences in prevalence rates are not solely grounded in disparities in services. Different rates are attributed to a combination of the following factors: service disparities, adaptation strategies, racial discrimination and cultural resources. The authors argue “if service disparities are solely responsible for differences in prevalence rates, why do African Americans, who probably receive the most disparate services, exhibit lower rates?

” (Sue&Chu, p. 460) 3. Associations between mental health and acculturation are argued to be different for Mexican Americans and Asian Americans. Asian Americans are characterized by positive relationship, whereas Mexican Americans are characterized by negative relationship. The reasons are not revealed, but the authors argue that they may be related to complexity of interactions of the abovementioned factors. The problem is that conclusions reached by the authors differ from that of the Surgeon General’s Supplement.

Several explanations are provided. The most important factor is that findings from the National Survey of American Life were not present to the editors. Despite the methods used are cross-culturally applicable, the conclusions appeared to be different. The authors have reveled lower prevalence rates for African Americans than editors’ studies. Moreover, the rates found are more compelling. Further, conclusions may be different because of small numbers of ethnic minority groups and conceptual differences in prevalence studies.

However, both studies prove that prevalence rates among ethnic minority are different among ethnic minority groups. Finally, the researchers provide some recommendations how to improve future research and analysis. Symptoms and disorders should be distinguished. For example, Asian Americans have serious mental health symptoms, but their prevalence rates are low. Further, acculturations should be discussed as a source of stress meaning that different ethnic minority groups face different challenges – learning new language, loss of resource, culture conflict and identity formation.

The authors conclude that differences in prevalence rates are amenable to inductive thinking, rather than deductive one. Therefore, inductive research is seen as a step to the development of broader theoretical models.

References Sue, S. , & Chu, J. (2003). The Mental Health of Ethnic Minority Groups: Challenges Posted by the Supplement to surgeon’s General Report on Mental Health. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 27, pp. 447-465.

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