Students, faculty and community members attend “Don’t Call me Crazy: Uncovering Mental Illness in Communities of Color” on April 8. Credit: Yuting Yang | Lantern Reporter

A panel discussion about mental illness was held at the College of Public Health on Saturday, organized by the Multicultural Public Health Student Association to raise awareness for the specific issues minorities face.

Saturday’s discussion, “Don’t Call me Crazy: Uncovering Mental Illness in Communities of Color,” was the fifth annual diversity summit held by the Multicultural Public Health Student Association, held as part of National Public Health Week.

Ohio State’s Fall Semester 2016 enrollment statistics list 11,088 minority students at OSU, or 18.90 percent of the whole student population. Research, however, shows that non-white Americans often receive less care for mental illness than their white peers. Laurita Barber, the executive assistant from National Alliance on Mental Illness of Franklin County, used statistical data to highlight issues that minority groups face.

Barber collected data from Latinos and African American groups, and it showed that 20 percent of African Americans had experienced mental illness. As for Latino community, Barber found that many people did not seek professional treatments for their illness.

“These groups normally receive poor mental care service,” Barber said. “We should speak up, we should say something”

Ivory Patterson, a graduate student in the College of Public Health, said the stigmas around mental illness can create a sense of isolation for students.

“Because of fear of standing out, fear of being different, or fear of being stigmatized in the community, no one wants to be isolated, or called out for it,” Patterson said.

With minorities especially, Barber said, someone being open about his or her mental health issue could be distorted to being unfaithful to that person’s religion. Additionally, there are disparities along racial and ethnic lines in the professional cares people receive.

“They experience inequality of access to treatment,” said Barber. “There aren’t many providers that understand (minority groups’) struggles.”

“Looking at the undergraduate and graduate programs in Ohio in general, people don’t talk about religion or politics, and they also don’t discuss mental illness,” Patterson said.

Patterson, as the president of the Multicultural Public Health Student Association, said she wanted minority students to speak up about their mental health.

“We want to create a space that students feel comfortable to talk about issues that are concerns and (are) important to minority groups,” Patterson said.