Providing Culturally Competent Mental Healthcare

Young girl in trouble feeling sad and depressed

By: Rochean Cofield, LMSW

We know that mental health issues existed in the Black community pre-COVID-19, but the increased trauma of the current health pandemic has intensified the need for culturally competent, accessible, affordable mental healthcare. Broadlawns Medical Center is working to meet this need by partnering with Urban Dreams to bring care into our community.

According to a Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health survey conducted prior to COVID-19, Black adults are significantly more likely than white adults to report feeling emotional distress, sadness and like everything is an effort. On top of existing traumas from racism and socioeconomic struggles, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced many new traumas for Black adults including uncertainty, isolation and loss.

Despite this great need for mental healthcare, only one in three Black adults who need help receives it. The CDC stated that in 2018 that only 8.7% of Black Americans received mental health services as compared to 18.6% of white Americans.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Socioeconomic challenges can make treatment less accessible. In 2018, 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S. had no form of health insurance. If people are paying out of pocket, that’s costly. Lack of transportation may also be a barrier to accessing care.

  • Stigma certainly plays a role in the mental health care gap. Mental health stigma is still pervasive in our community. One study showed that 63% of African Americans believe that a mental health condition is a personal sign of weakness.

  • Finding a provider to provide culturally competent care is certainly an additional challenge. In the US, only 6.2% of psychologists, 5.6% of advanced-practice psychiatric nurses, 12.6% of social workers and 21.3% of psychiatrists identify as people of color.

When seeking mental healthcare, it is very important for a person to feel their provider shares some level of their identity - race, religion, socio-economic status - in order to receive the best possible support and care. Conscious or unconscious bias from providers and lack of cultural competence can result in misdiagnosis, poor treatment and mistrust of mental health professionals.

Broadlawns is proud to be working to fill these mental healthcare gaps in care in our community by partnering with Urban Dreams to make affordable, culturally competent mental health care more accessible.

Broadlawns is now offering professional mental health services for all ages at Urban Dreams, located at 601 Forest Avenue. All forms of insurance are accepted. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call (515) 288-4742.

We invite you to see us. We are here to help.

About Rochean Cofield, LMSW

Rochean Cofield, a native of Philadelphia, PA, earned an Associate’s Degree from Des Moines Area Community College, a Bachelor’s in Human Services from Grand View University, and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Iowa. She completed her field learning at Creative Visions where she focused on mentoring youth who struggled in school, as well as community members seeking assistance with basic food needs, utility assistance, and programming assistance. Additionally, Rochean has experience working with the elderly and aging as well as individuals with physical and mental limitations. Rochean has a strong understanding of the needs of Des Moines’ most vulnerable populations.

Rochean sees patients at Urban Dreams' office, located at 601 Forest Avenue. She provides a full range of services including: assessments; individual therapy for all ages; group therapy; marriage and family therapy.

Her clinical interests include: empowering women who have experienced incarceration and/or the termination of parental rights; marriage and family reunification; community collaborations; juvenile delinquency and gang violence; intellectual disabilities; Dementia/Alzheimer's; grief and loss; Veteran Affairs; PTSD; surviving domestic violence and sexual assault.