Published Date: June 28, 2023

Summary: To better understand the mental health needs of the diverse Black population in California, authors of this study used five years of pooled data (2017 to 2021) from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to evaluate differences between Black adults as a single population versus Black adults as multiple populations with diverse racial and ethnic identities. 

Findings: When Black adults were examined as a single group, the data showed that about 1 in 4 had either serious (13%) or moderate (10%) psychological distress (SPD/MPD); among those with SPD/MPD, 2 in 5 had unmet need for care. However, when different populations were examined separately, the data showed worse mental health outcomes among multiracial Black adults compared to monoracial Black adults, and among U.S.-born Black adults compared with their non–U.S.-born counterparts. Variation in unmet need for services was seen with a low of 31% among Black and other race adults to a high of 59% among non-U.S.-born Black adults. 

These findings emphasize the importance of examining data by different groups to examine variations in mental health outcomes within the Black adult population. Based on these findings, our recommendations in this policy brief are to prioritize anti-racist policies that promote equity in the structural and social determinants of mental health outcomes; improve access to structurally competent mental health care; and support data disaggregation efforts to advance health equity.

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