Black Health & Wellness: Encourage. Empower. Enlighten
During February, join us as we celebrate Black History Month! This month is dedicated to recognizing the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history.
As we commemorate Black History Month, it is essential to recognize and address health inequity and inequality issues in the Black community. The opioid epidemic in the United States is a crisis that has had severe ramifications for the Black community. Attention to African Americans during this plight has been less than satisfactory. Between 2015 and 2016, drug overdose deaths among Black/African Americans increased by 40% compared to the overall population increase of only 21%.1 While during 2019 to 20202, Black 15-24 year-olds experienced the largest rate increase of overdose deaths (86%) compared to other race groups.2 In addition to a lack of acknowledgment and response in this community, African Americans are criminalized and incarcerated at significantly higher rates for drug-related offenses than their White counterparts.1
As health providers and practitioners, understanding the stigma surrounding African Americans and substance misuse is crucial when striving to provide prevention and treatment care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines cultural competency as the “integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of services."3 When healthcare providers practice cultural competence and cultural humility, acknowledging one’s own bias and reflecting on the intersectionality of identity, patient outcomes improve.4
Prevention planning must begin with understanding the complex nature of behavioral health and environment contexts. SAMHSA has developed the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) to facilitate this process.5 The SPF lists five steps where cultural competence can be applied at each stage in the process:
SAMHSA has also identified the following cultural competence principles for prevention planners5:
- Include the target population in all aspects of prevention planning
- Use a population-based definition of community
- Stress the importance of relevant, culturally appropriate prevention approaches
- Employ culturally competent evaluators
- Promote cultural competence among program staff, reflecting the communities they serve
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The opioid crisis and the Black/African American population: an urgent issue. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2020).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose Death Rates Increased Significantly for Black, American Indian/Alaska Native People in 2020 (2022). Accessed January 29, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/s0719-overdose-rates-vs.html.
- Cultural Competence In Health and Human Services | NPIN, September 10, 2021. Accessed January 29, 2023. https://npin.cdc.gov/pages/cultural-competence.
- Khan, Shamaila. Cultural Humility vs. Competence — and Why Providers Need Both. HealthCity, March 9, 2021. Accessed January 29, 2023. https://healthcity.bmc.org/policy-and-industry/cultural-humility-vs-cultural-competence-providers-need-both.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. A Guide to SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework. June 2019. Accessed January 29, 2023. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/samhsa-strategic-prevention-framework-guide-08292019.pdf.