Attaining cultural competency is one of the major goals of health care institutions in United States. Achieving this goal creates a greater challenge to U.S. health care sector because of the higher numbers of diverse patients and health care providers. Moreover, most health care centers spend time serving diverse populations, which are associated with conflicts and violence among health care providers reducing the nature of patient care offered by medical professionals. Culturally diverse populations suffer high risks of poor physical, social and psychological health and often never get access to quality health care (Galanti, n.d). The following discussion focuses on the African-American community in United States. The paper focuses on the population in terms of barriers to health care services and identifying advocacy opportunities and activities for the African American population.
The African-Americans form one of the most known culturally diverse communities in United States when it comes to health care provision compared to any other immigrants in US. A better understanding of the complex role of African-American backgrounds and diverse experiences helps in ensuring the population accesses adequate health care. Most African Americans have poor access to education, health care and employment because some still hold traditional cultural beliefs (Griffin, 2012). The National Institute of Mental Health reported that US mental health system neglected African American and most other diverse communities in US. Only about one-third of the population receives mental health care services whenever the need arises (National Institute of Mental Health, 2012). Barriers associated with the lack of effective health insurance covers for mental health services and drug and substance use still exist even with the effort by the government to establish programs aimed at improving access to health care for the diverse population (American Psychiatric Association, 2014).
Developing advocacy programs would help cater for the unique needs of African Americans and improve their access to mental health services. The government should introduce health policies that ensure vulnerable and diverse populations get access to improved and quality health care without considering the financial status or cultural background of a person. The most recommended advocacy program is giving low-cost medical covers to diverse communities that promote access to culturally competence services. According to Erford (2013), medical professionals should have the knowledge of the profession of counseling in order to offer a much-anticipated advocacy and multicultural counseling. Most African American populations require immediate attention of mental health problem from medical professionals because they suffer a high prevalence rate. The group requires frequent counseling in order to get rid of some cultures and behaviors that accelerate mental health cases like alcohol and drug abuse (Griffin, 2012).
The counseling program will play a major role in influencing the behavior of African Americans and allow them concentrate more on their health than culture. Orientation to professional counseling gives medical professionals knowledge on medical consultation, evaluating outcomes, supervision, and the general counseling process for the diverse populations (Erford, 2013). However, implementation of the program is likely to face institutional and social barriers associated with health care politics. The African American communities are under-served in US, and some institutions might not comply with the new policies simply because of social-cultural differences.
In order to ensure the community adapts to the program, extensive campaigns and education workshops will be held in major towns where African Americans reside. The program advises the community on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and the value of registering for health insurance. Moreover, the program will offer rewards in terms of reduced health insurance bills for those who sign for the program in order to increase their desire to accept the advocacy program.
American Psychiatric Association. (2014). African Americans. Retrieved November 5, 2014
Erford, B. (2013). Orientation to the counseling profession: Advocacy, ethics, and essential professional foundations (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Galanti, G. (n.d). The challenge of serving and working with diverse populations in American hospitals, Western Journal of Medicine, 1-7
Griffin, D. (2012, May 1). The need for advocacy with African American parents. Retrieved
November 6, 2014, from http://ct.counseling.org/2012/05/the-need-for-advocacy-with-african-american-parents/
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012). The Attitudes Toward Mental Illness: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Atlanta (GA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hrqol/mental_health_reports/pdf/brfss_report_insidepages.pdf