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Mental health and Social Isolation: How Racial Minority Groups Are Affected

Minority communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s toll.

Loneliness can be painful—both mentally and physically. In fact, over the past decade, mental health professionals and researchers have declared that loneliness is a major public health crisis capable of causing grief, fear, exhaustion, pain, and even illness.1 During the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires mitigation activities like quarantining and practicing social distancing to avoid spreading the virus, people are lonelier than ever. However, the impact COVID-related isolation has had on individuals is not uniform. A growing body of data shows that the mental health of racial and ethnic minority groups is being disproportionately affected by the imposed—albeit necessary—social restrictions.

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How Isolation Influences Minority Communities

In general, public health crises impact racial and ethnic minority communities on a much larger scale than other populations, producing higher rates of illness and death.2 According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “These higher rates are due to systemic and structural health and social inequities experienced by minority communities.”2 Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has been no exception, as some minority communities experience elevated hospitalization rates.2 It’s also interesting to note that when close-knit relationships serve as a cornerstone of a culture—as seen in Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and other minority communities—social isolation can be more harmful. In this way, minority communities are faced with competing issues: protecting against the coronavirus itself as well as the mental health issues that can arise as a result of mitigation measures.

The Importance of Belonging

Physical connectedness combats loneliness, providing individuals with a sense of safety and comfort. For people of color, these connections to friends and family act as an invaluable support network—a safe space to feel seen, heard, and celebrated. According to NAMI, “It is due to this familial connectedness that current social isolation policies are affecting many people of color in an unforeseen manner.”2 This isolation has caused a disconnect between family members and communities that validate each other in a world that challenges their sense of belonging and purpose. And though relationships and social connections are important to all groups of people, this is especially true for members of racial and ethnic minority communities.

Staying Connected—Virtually

It’s vital for members of racial minority communities to find ways to stay connected to their peers and loved ones. Here are a few ideas:

  • Video chat over FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype.
  • Participate in online events to maintain engagement with faith-based and cultural institutions.
  • Share recipes with family and friends that you can cook “together.”
  • Join an interactive discussion group or book club.
  • Volunteer with community support groups.

Research has shown that the risks associated with social isolation are on par with those of obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, and even a lack of access to healthcare.2 Given that fact, it’s important to be aware of your own mental and physical health—and that of your friends and loved ones, especially in times as challenging as these.

Prepare for a Career in Counseling With Walden University’s Dual Degree Program

At Walden, an accredited university, you can gain the skills to help people cope during stressful times. Walden enables you to earn your degree in both clinical mental health counseling and school counseling at the same time.

The MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental health Counseling and School Counseling program is designed for working professionals who are looking to gain the skills and training they need to expand their opportunities and work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and individual and family service organizations. With five specializations and a General Program to choose from, you can align your MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental health Counseling and School Counseling coursework with your professional goals and interests as you prepare to pursue licensure or certification in the field.

Thanks to online education, you can earn your master’s in an accessible, safe environment while you continue to work full time. That means you can better maintain a work-life balance while you expand your credentials and gain the experience you need to improve the lives of children, individuals, and families as a mental health professional.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering high-quality online degree programs, including an MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental health Counseling and School Counseling. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890922
2Source: www.nami.org/Support-Education/NAMI-HelpLine/COVID-19-Information-and-Resources/COVID_Isolation_Guide.pdf

MS in Clinical Mental health Counseling: Walden University’s MS in Clinical Mental health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a requirement for licensure in many states. The MS in Clinical Mental health Counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards. Because no graduate program can guarantee licensure upon graduation, we encourage students to consult the appropriate agency to determine specific requirements. For more information about licensure, students should visit the National Board for Certified Counselors at www.nbcc.org/search/stateboarddirectory and/or the American Association of State Counseling Boards at www.aascb.org, and contact the appropriate licensing body. International students are encouraged to identify and contact their appropriate licensing body. Learn more about professional licensure.

MS in School Counseling: The MS in School Counseling program meets the standards for school counseling licensure or certification and is a state-approved program in Minnesota and Ohio. The MS in School Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which may also be a requirement to become licensed or certified as a school counselor in some states. In addition, some states require school counselors to have an existing teaching license or certification, and teaching experience, in order to be eligible for a school counseling certification/license. Learn more about professional licensure.

Further, many states require school counseling programs to be approved in at least one state, either their own or another state. The MS in School Counseling program is approved by the states of Minnesota and Ohio, and while this approval is accepted by the majority of states that require state approval, it may not be accepted by all states.

Walden is not approved to offer the MS in School Counseling degree in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, or Tennessee, so if you reside in one of these states, you will not be eligible for the dual degree.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.  

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