Benchmark – Diversity, Biases, and Special Populations
Culture is a unique identity that distinguishes people in a diverse society. As such, culturally competent counselors are better placed to understand and respect the cultural identities of their patients. The report focuses on single African-American and Korean people who are notable examples of special groups in the United States. In essence, it may be impossible to capture all aspects of diversity within specific cultural groups. Therefore, behavioral health service providers need to acknowledge the existing variation on how these people interact in the social setting, as well as how the environment defines behavioral health. Counselors are required to acquire more cultural knowledge about the specific populations to improve the quality of behavioral services they offer.
Diversity in Seeking and Interacting with Health Services
Diversity determines how individuals represented from special groups seek and interact with behavioral health services. The unmarried African American mothers are less likely to state their special needs for fear of racial prejudice (Keith et al., 2010). Single black women often feel offended when asked personal information regarding their marital status because they perceive it as stereotyping. Moreover, the longstanding suspicion concerning health institutions affects the participation, attitude, and treatment outcomes of single African American women. The existing bias against the black population is common having been used in the past in control studies that violated their human rights and dignity (Keith et al., 2010). Therefore, they negatively perceive most health facilities and counselors and believe they are likely to be discriminated against and offered poor services.
The case is similar to single Korean women who are less likely to have confidence and respect their counselors. Per Nagayama & Yee (2012), many single Korean women believe their doctors or counselors have an inadequate understanding of the cultural backgrounds and values to provide holistic health care services. In essence, majority of the Korean women are less likely to seek and interact with behavioral services from general counselors at the expense of specialized professionals (Nagayama & Yee, 2012). The treatment orientation may completely be different from what the Korean women are accustomed to. In other words, there is a feeling they may not benefit from treatment provided by mainstream specialists. Subsequently, single Korean women are scared and often underutilize behavioral health services because of the fear to reveal their residency status as some of them may not have required immigration documents.
Social Justice and Access to Health Services
The American society should be organized in a way allowing all the behavioral health needs of the people to be met regardless of their cultural affiliations. African American single women are facing difficulties in accessing valuable health services in myriad healthcare facilities (Keith et al., 2010). The inability to access healthcare services is linked to the intolerance and prejudice characteristic of healthcare facilities. Black women are also affected by health inequality considering that their incomes are low and thus unable to access quality care during emergencies. As such, most of their mental health needs are exacerbated and largely unfulfilled. Furthermore, issues relating to social justice like economic insecurity, violence against women, and criminal justice often common among the African American population compound the health inequality denying the single women opportunities to access quality care when needed.
The Korean women have been sidelined in the provision of quality behavioral health services because most of the people involved in the formulation of policies are rarely African Americans. Per Kong et al. (2017), the people in power and responsible for implementing policies have rarely addressed the mental and behavioral health needs of Asian Americans. In addition, those in power often have biased attitudes towards unmarried Koreans creating social injustice denying them the opportunities to access support services. Consequently, the health insurance services as the gateway to accessing care have affected the ability of Korean women to access help. The poverty rates among single women are high affecting their ability to purchase insurance packages (McArthur & Winkworth, 2017). It is difficult to access quality care without appropriate health insurance plans. These women are experiencing difficulties accessing help from qualified counselors and physicians because most of them are uninsured.
Personal Reflections about Biases and Special Populations
As a counselor, I regularly interact with clients from special populations. I grew up in a single-parent family of African American origin in West Baltimore. I fully understand the plight of single women and the discrimination and stereotypes they have to contend with. In my line of work, I believe that no professional should judge a patient or another person on the basis of his or her cultural orientation, religion, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. Therefore, I feel I do not have any bias I can mention. I am aware that providing mental and other behavioral health services is challenging. However, should a situation arise in which I feel like judging patients based on their cultural information, I would take some time to re-evaluate my work ethic. I suppose people struggling to accommodate others from different cultural backgrounds are either struggling with the same issues ultimately manifesting in their professional work. The awareness of own biases or other people’s biases is essential in objectively looking at the issues causing the biases. Hence, I intend on using a patient’s cultural information to make them feel comfortable and appropriately address their needs
The special populations tend to struggle to access behavioral services due to social justice influences. Specifically, single African American women and Koreans have struggled to access support services because of stereotypes, discrimination, and income inequality. In a consequence, most of these women have avoided many health facilities for fear of discrimination or inability to afford quality health services. The other problem that these women face is cultural or marital biases in which they are harshly judged by professionals who feel it is wrong to raise a child in the single-parenthood household
Keith, V., Lincoln, K., Taylor, R. & Jackson, J. (2010). Discriminatory Experiences and Depressive Symptoms among African American Women: Do Skin Tone and Mastery Matter? Sex Roles 62, 48–59.
Kong, K., Choi, H. & Kim, S. (2017). Mental health among single and partnered parents in South Korea. PLoS ONE, 12(8), e0182943.
McArthur, M. & Winkworth, G. (2017). What do we know about the social networks of single parents who do not use supportive services? Child and Family Social Work, 22, 638–647.
Nagayama, H. & Yee, A. (2012). U.S. Mental Health Policy: Addressing the Neglect of Asian Americans. Asian American journal of psychology, 3(3), 181–193.