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Announcing a New Effort to Identify Mental Illness in the African American Community (Essay Sample)


Announcing a New Effort to Identify Mental Illness in the African American Community
Your company, the Praxis News Group, owns a number of news magazines, including the number one publication read by U.S. African American middle class men and women, Our Lives.  Our Lives subscriptions are increasing rapidly among young professional African Americans.
Your boss, James Jones, the CEO of Praxis, is concerned about the under-diagnosis of mental illness among African Americans and the lack of services for this population.  With his board of directors’ approval, he is directing that Praxis contribute $3 million to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to help identify African Americans with mental illness and get them into community health services or private clinics.  This is the largest donation every received by NAMI for a project targeting a specific group of individuals.
Please write a Praxis press release announcing the donation.  You may quote Mr. Jones and Mike Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of NAMI.  You may use the attached fact sheet for background information.  You do not have to cite all of the information on the fact sheet, only a few of the most important points.  You may make up your own “facts” about Praxis and Our Lives since these entities do not really exist.  Your release should be no more than 500 words long.
Questions?  Do not hesitate to write, call or see me.
Michael DurandManaging Media 001#   #   #
 African American Community Mental Health FACT SHEETNAMI • The National Alliance on Mental Illness • www(dot)nami(dot)org • 1 (800) 950-NAMI3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100 • Arlington, VA 22203
• African Americans in the United States are less likely to receive accurate diagnoses than their Caucasian counterparts. Schizophrenia, for instance has been shown to be over-diagnosed in the African American population.
• Culture biases against mental health professionals and health care professionals in general prevent many African Americans from accessing care due to prior experiences with historical misdiagnoses, inadequate treatment and a lack of cultural under standing; only 2 percent of psychiatrists, 2 percent of psychologists and 4 percent of social workers in the United States are African American.   Because of The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, private insurance and other programs, the costs of mental health treatment can be managed.  The problem is getting people into the mental health system.
• African Americans tend to rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support rather than turning to health care professionals, even though this may at times be necessary. The health care providers they seek may not be aware of this important aspect of person life.
• Mental illness is frequently stigmatized and misunderstood in the African American community. African Americans are much more likely to seek help though their primary care doctors as opposed to accessing specialty care.
• African Americans are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage in terms of accessing both medical and mental health care: in 2006, one-third of working adult African Americans were uninsured in the preceding year.
• Experiences of mental illness vary across cultures, and there is a need for improved cultural awareness and competence in the health care and mental health workforce.
• Across a recent 15-year span, suicide rates increased 233 percent among African Americans aged 10-14 compared to 120 percent among Caucasian Americans in the same age group across the same span of time.
• Somatization—the manifestation of physical illnesses related to mental health—occurs at a rate of 15 percent among African Americans and only 9 percent among Caucasian Americans.
• Some studies suggest that African Americans metabolize some medications more slowly than Caucasian Americans, yet they often receive higher doses of psychiatric medications, which may result in increased side effects and decreased medication compliance.
• Social circumstances often serve as an indicator for the likelihood of developing a mental illness. African Americans are disproportionately more likely to experience social circumstances that increase their chances of developing a mental illness.
• African Americans comprise 40 percent of the homeless population and only 12 percent of the U.S. population. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental illness.
• Nearly half of all prisoners in the United States are African American. Prison inmates are at a higher risk of developing a mental illness.
• Children in foster care and the child welfare system are more likely to develop mental illnesses. African American children comprise 45 percent of the public foster care population.
• Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental illness; over 25 percent of African American children exposed to violence meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder.
• With the implementation of various programs and innovations, African Americans’ patronization rates for mental health services may be improved.
• Programs in African American communities sponsored by respected institutions, such as churches and local community groups can increase awareness of mental health issues and resources and decrease the related stigma.
• Programs that improve enrollment rates in safety net health care providers can result in increased mental health care due to improved mental health coverage in the African American community.
• Encouragement in the community to join mental health related professions could increase the number of African American mental health care providers and increase social sensitivity among the provider community.
• Overall sensitivity to African American cultural differences, such as differences in medication metabolization rates, unique views of mental illness and propensity towards experiencing certain mental illnesses, can improve African Americans’ treatment experiences and increase utilization of mental health care services.
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans afflicted by mental illness.  NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, support and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all those in need.
NAMI is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI affiliates, and volunteer leaders who work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs


Announcing a New Effort to Identify Mental Illness in the African American Community
Contact: Michael Durand
Managing Media 001
Your Favorite News Group, Praxis, is making the Effort towards Fighting Mental Illness in the African American Community
There are a lot of cultural biases against mental health professionals and healthcare professionals that have prevented African Americans from accessing care because they have had prior experiences with misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. There is normally a high likelihood that African Americans would be misdiagnosed. It is a possibility of occurrences like this that has prevented them from seeking medical health to address mental issues. Even though mental illness is a serious issue, it is often stigmatized and misunderstood within the community.
Different cultures vary in their experiences of mental illness. There is a need to improve cultural awareness and competence in mental health workforce and health care. The Praxis News Group, in an effort to address the under-diagnosis of mental illness among the African-American community, has made a donation of $3million to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). We are honored to say that this is the single largest donation ever made to the organization. This is a passionate endeavor for Praxis CEO, Mr. James Jones, who has made this donation possible. It is our hope

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