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Black and Hispanic Adults with Fair or Poor Mental Health Are Less Likely Than White Adults to Say They Received Mental Health Services, Reflecting Cost Concerns and Other Barriers to Care

A new KFF analysis of our 2023 Survey of Racism, Discrimination, and Health finds that Black (39%) and Hispanic (36%) adults who report fair or poor mental health are less likely than White (50%) adults to say they received mental health services in the past three years.

Such disparities reflect several barriers to mental health care identified by these adults. In addition to cost concerns and being too busy or not being able to get time off to seek care, Hispanic and Black adults also disproportionately report other challenges such as being afraid or embarrassed to seek care, not knowing how to find a provider, or thinking they would be unable to find a provider with a shared background.

The findings come against a backdrop of what other KFF polling and analysis indicates is a national mental health crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. People of color have been disproportionately affected by the rises in drug overdose and suicide deaths across the U.S. in recent years. They also are more likely to report experiences of racism and discrimination, which are associated with worse mental health and well-being.

Other key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Among adults who received or tried to receive mental health care, Asian (55%), and Black (46%) adults are more likely to report difficulty finding a provider who could understand their background and experiences compared to their White counterparts (38%). Among those who thought they needed mental health care but did not try to find a provider, Hispanic adults are more likely than White adults to say the primary reason was they didn’t know how to find a provider (24% vs. 11%) or that they were afraid or embarrassed to seek care (30% vs. 18%).
  • Awareness of the 988 mental health hotline remains low, particularly among Black, Hispanic, and Asian adults. As of Summer 2023, nearly one in five (18%) adults say they have heard a lot or some about 988, with Black (16%), Hispanic (11%), and Asian (13%) adults less likely to say they have heard about 988 than White adults (21%).
  • Adults who report unfair treatment or negative experiences with a provider are twice as likely as those without these experiences to say they went without needed mental health care. Four in ten (41%) adults who report they were treated unfairly or with disrespect by a health care provider and about one-third (35%) of adults who say they’ve had at least one negative experience with a health care provider say they did not get mental health services they thought they needed compared to smaller shares of those who do not report these experiences (18% and 15%, respectively).

For more data and analyses based on KFF’s Racism, Discrimination and Health Survey, visit

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