Disparities in Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment Among African Americans: Implications for the Correctional Systems

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Abstract

African Americans are more likely to show such disparities in mental health as misdiagnosis, lack of treatment access, and poorer outcomes. Due in part to stigma in African American communities, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and bipolar illness are often missed. Mental health disparities in diagnosis and treatment have contributed significantly to the overrepresentation of African Americans in correctional settings. The lack of mental health services in such settings has implications for the course of mental illness and overall recidivism. Screening for mental health illness, awareness of substance abuse, recognition of new treatment approaches, and an appreciation of the importance of culture and communications in a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment must be developed for African Americans within correctional populations.