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Young African-American Males Face Mental Health Crisis; Experts Call For New Treatment Strategies and Better Access to Care
Date:9/9/2008

Studies Find Dramatic Increase in Suicides among Adolescent African-American Males

ATLANTA, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A significant increase in mental illness and behavioral problems among adolescent African-American males demonstrates the need for new approaches to treatment and better understanding of the complex challenges facing these youths, according to a policy paper issued by Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved, an advocacy group based at Morehouse School of Medicine.

The paper, titled "The Secret Epidemic: Exploring the Mental Health Crisis Affecting Adolescent African-American Males," outlines data indicating that mental health problems are rising among members of this at-risk group, their access to treatment facilities is relatively low and treatment strategies must be revamped to address the socioeconomic issues that confront them.

"Our research found that many young black males are treatable, but they are going undiagnosed because of failures in America's health-care system," said Dr. Henrie M. Treadwell, Director of Community Voices, a nonprofit seeking to improve health services and access to health care. "Our entire society feels the impact of this failure. Suicides and homicides have increased for this group, and the residual effect is impacting communities across the country. This problem must be addressed."

Dr. Claire Xanthos, a health services research specialist, wrote the paper, which cites studies showing that black males ages 15-19 die from homicide at 46 times the rate of their white counterparts and that from 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate for black adolescents rose from 5.6 to 13 per 100,000 of the population.

Xanthos writes that "these figures should not be surprising since adolescent African-American males in contemporary American society face major challenges to their psychological development and well-being. In addition to dealing with the physical, mental and emotional is
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SOURCE Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved
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