Detroit Regional Chamber > Closing Equity Gaps in Detroit > Disparity in Access to Mental Health Services Requires Immediate Action

Disparity in Access to Mental Health Services Requires Immediate Action

October 6, 2023

By Bridget G. Hurd

The mental health crisis is touching our families and communities in significant ways. Financial stress, job-related stress, depression and anxiety, stigma, grief as a result of COVID-19, and other concerns underscore the importance of access to behavioral health services.

The findings of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Resident Voices Survey show that 13% of city residents and 28% of suburban residents say it is very easy to access mental health services in the area where they live, compared to the U.S. average of 20%. This disparity is not surprising, but indeed alarming.

This disparity requires an immediate call to action to increase access to behavioral health services for Detroit residents. Everyone should be able to access the care they need to have a healthy body and mind. As a collective community, we must come together to find new ways to fight stigma, inform and educate, provide support, and advocate for policies that help to increase access.

Here are some things that we can do:

  • Ask the question “why?” Why does this disparity exist?
  • Eliminate the “myth of normal” and change the way we talk about mental health concerns to reduce stigma; make it OK for everyone (men included) to seek help when needed.
  • Put a spotlight on the youth mental health crisis and continue to bring counselors and therapists back into the school setting.
  • Provide grants and resources to local and grassroots nonprofits to help those trusted organizations connect their clients to appropriate mental health resources.
  • Develop a pipeline for culturally competent providers and work to increase the diverse representation of mental health providers to reflect the community members they serve.
  • Improve integration of physical and mental health care to ensure that primary care physicians check in with patients to assess their mental health needs.

A key part of health equity is ensuring everyone has access to quality care and that includes behavioral health care.

Bridget G. Hurd

Bridget G. Hurd

Bridget G. Hurd is Vice President, Inclusion and Diversity, and Chief Diversity Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The Detroit Resident Voices Survey Report highlights Detroiters’ daily experiences and perceptions and elevates issues that are central to their quality of life. Released by the Detroit Regional Chamber and Gallup Center on Black Voices, the survey report provides insights that can be used in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to develop new programs and initiatives to identify and close racial equity gaps. It is part of the Chamber’s Racial Justice and Economic Equity Initiative.