Access To and Utilization of Health Services as Pathway to Racial Disparities in Serious Mental Illness

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Often considered to fare better than White Americans in terms of mental health, African-Americans are nevertheless more vulnerable to chronic, persistent conditions should they become mentally ill, the literature suggests. The present study used data from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey to examine race differences in the prevalence rates of serious mental illness and race's role in relationships among such illness and variables of (a) social status and (b) health services. Results showed that non-Hispanic Blacks' level of reported chronic mental illness (in the past 30 days) exceeded that of non-Hispanic Whites. The results indicate that variables describing respondents' mental health care, along with their age and alcohol consumption, affect serious mental illness differently among African-Americans compared to Whites. Implications concerning racial disparities in mental health are discussed.



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