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Mental Health Disparities, Treatment Engagement, and Attrition Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities with Severe Mental Illness: A Review

Abstract

Mounting evidence indicates that there are mental health disparities in the United States that disadvantage racial/ethnic minorities in medical and mental health settings. Less is known, however, about how these findings apply to a particularly vulnerable population, individuals with severe mental illness (SMI). The aim of this paper is to (1) provide a critical review of the literature on racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care among individuals with SMI; (2) identify factors which may contribute to the observed disparities; and (3) generate recommendations on how best to address these disparities. Specifically, this article provides an in-depth review of sociocultural factors that may contribute to differences in treatment engagement and rates of attrition from treatment among racial/ethnic minorities with SMI who present at medical and mental health facilities. This review is followed by a discussion of specific strategies that may promote engagement in mental health services and therefore reduce racial/ethnic disparities in SMI.

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References marked with an asterisk indicate empirical studies included in the review.

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Correspondence to Jessica Maura.

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Jessica Maura and Amy Weisman de Mamani declare they have no conflict of interest.

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Maura, J., Weisman de Mamani, A. Mental Health Disparities, Treatment Engagement, and Attrition Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities with Severe Mental Illness: A Review. J Clin Psychol Med Settings 24, 187–210 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-017-9510-2

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Keywords

  • Health disparities
  • Severe mental illness
  • Minorities
  • Treatment engagement
  • Treatment attrition