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Cultural and faith-based stigma affecting minorities in America

Cultural and faith-based stigma affecting minorities in America

The stigma associated with addiction and mental health disorders continue to be one of the most influential factors contributing to the high rates of untreated substance use disorders and mental illnesses affecting the lives of millions in the country. Stigma is also an outcome of cultural and faith-based factors that often leads to marginalization of people suppressing their voices and creating barriers to treatment.

People from the minority communities, refugees and immigrant populations fear backlash from the mainstream society and their own perceptions borne out of beliefs in their faith and culture impact their access to treatment services. Other factors like poverty, insurance coverage and language barriers add to their woes.

Some faith-based doctrines limit the understanding of addiction and mental health issues, and lack of resources makes the problem worse. Those affected are often termed as ‘sinners’ or people who are unworthy of help from a fellow believer, something that also drives away even family members from helping the loved ones. It becomes highly relevant that culturally appropriate and faith-based programs are made available to people in order to educate them and their family about the importance of treating substance abuse problems and mental health illnesses. At the same time, keeping the values intact and assimilating their faith within the program.

Role of community and faith-driven programs

In a more specific approach, a study, published in the Journal of Substance Use in April 2016, spoke about the role of Muslim faith-based programs in transforming the lives of people suffering with mental health and addiction problems. Qualitative, in-depth interviews were carried out with eight faith-based program volunteers and observations of both experts and practitioners were recorded.

The researchers found that educational programs that help identify the problem and create acceptance can lead to harm reduction and better treatment outcomes among those affected. Since the minorities have less access to culturally appropriate treatment modalities, there is need of faith-based projects in de-“stigmatizing health”, said Sanaa Majid, a member of the executive team of the Healing Opportunities through Prevention and Education (HOPE) Project that raises awareness in the Muslim community.

The same predicament is shared by other minority communities in the US, where an earlier research article stated that there is a prevalence of low treatment rates of mental health issues among Latino immigrants caused due to factors such as lack of social and cultural support, limited awareness and stigma. The study highlighted the role of “successful culturally targeted interventions” driven by community-based participatory research methodology in order to address the problems.

Just as it is important to respect the cultural values and faiths, it is essential to understand that mental health is important too. Though religious beliefs act as the support mechanism for a person’s everyday problems, factors affecting mental health cannot be ignored, where diagnosis and treatment may seem alien to a person’s traditional and spiritual beliefs. Health practitioners should adopt effective ways of addressing the gaps providing a much needed and accepted approach across all communities.

Treatment for dual diagnosis

Substance abuse is often accompanied by mental health issues like depression, panic disorder or other forms of anxiety disorders. The simultaneous occurrence of an addiction and psychiatric illness is termed as co-occurring disorders. It is critical to treat both the disorders together for complete recovery. An untreated disorder will deteriorate a person’s health and heighten his or her chances of early mortality.

If you are looking for dual diagnosis help in Florida, Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline can provide you or your loved one with the required information. Call us on our 24/7 helpline (866) 337-7631 or chat online with an executive to get connected to one of the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida that offer customized recovery programs suiting the patient’s needs.