UCLA Identifies Mental Health Factors for Low-Income Minorities
Low-income black, Hispanic and Latino U.S. residents are disproportionately affected by mental health issues and chronic conditions, according to a study by UCLA researchers published in the journal Psychological Trauma, Medical News Today reports.
Details of Study
For the study, researchers reviewed self-reported data on stress and mental health measures from 500 black, Hispanic and Latino respondents (McNamee, Medical News Today, 6/29).
Respondents were asked about their experiences with:
- Childhood violence;
- Poverty; and
Using structural equation modeling, the researchers were able to link the likelihood that respondents would experience psychological issues with the number of negative experiences they had accrued (Thompson, Latin Post, 6/29).
The researchers identified five environmental factors that can predict mental health issues -- such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- including:
- Chronic fear of being killed or seriously injured;
- Experiences of racial, ethnic, gender or sexual orientation discrimination;
- History of sexual abuse;
- History of violence among family or intimate partners; and
- History of violence in an individual's community.
According to the study, the greater the burden of such experiences among individuals, the more likely they were to develop severe mental health symptoms (Medical News Today, 6/29).
Hector Myers, a former UCLA psychology professor and author of the study, in a statement said, "We know there is a poorer overall quality of life, a loss of productivity, greater social dependency, disability, health and mental health care costs, and early mortality as a result of repeated experiences of stress and trauma" (Latin Post, 6/29).
Meanwhile, Gail Wyatt, study co-author and professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, said that such mental health issues often go undetected and untreated.
She said, "Only a small proportion of individuals with psychological distress are identified in health care settings, and a smaller fraction of those ever receive appropriate treatment, especially for the experiences of discrimination" (Medical News Today, 6/29).
Second Study Expands on Findings
In a second study, another group of UCLA researchers further reviewed the five environmental factors that can predict mental health issues, the Latin Post reports.
Through the analysis, the researchers developed the UCLA Life Adversities Screener, a questionnaire to help providers better treat mental health issues, such as trauma and stress, among ethnic and racial minorities.
Honghu Liu, lead author of the study and a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, said the screening method could help "identify ethnic and racial minority individuals in primary care settings who have a high trauma burden and who need more extensive evaluation" because of its potential to "capture experiences that could be missed with current screening approaches" (Latin Post, 6/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.