Mental Health and Communities of Color: From Stigma to Solutions

Experts widely report that mental health treatment in Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities is severely lacking. Cultural differences and misunderstandings lead to diagnostic problems and hesitancy to seek treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness found that Black adults are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress than white adults, yet only one in three Black Americans who needs support gets it. Latinx, Asian and Indigenous people similarly have poor access to quality mental health services. BIPOC youth are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system, with their needs untreated. And the age of COVID has amplified the depth of these disparities and the ongoing systematic inequities for people of color.

How can medical professionals, government and the private sector work together in this challenging time to improve conditions and treatment as well as eliminate stigma for those needing care? UCSF Psychiatry Chief Dr. Lisa Fortuna will moderate and address solutions. San Francisco Human Rights Commission Director Sheryl Davis will focus on the impact of COVID-19 and racism across different populations. Stanford University psychiatrist Dr. Rona Hu will discuss treatment needs in Asian, Black and LGBTQ populations. YMCA President Emeritus Chuck Collins will provide community context based on his work with varied populations over the years. And youth activist Nicole Elmore will discuss her personal experiences.

Join this compelling conversation featuring health, community and human rights perspectives.


Part of The Commonwealth Club’s series on mental health, dedicated in memory of Nancy Friend Pritzker, with support from the John Pritzker Family Fund.



Image - Chuck Collins
Chuck Collins
President Emeritus, YMCA, San Francisco
Image - Sheryl Davis
Sheryl Davis
Executive Director, San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
Image - Nicole Elmore
Nicole Elmore
Community Youth Activist; Program Assistant, Opportunities for All (Mayor London Breed’s Youth Initiative for Workforce Development, Partnered with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission)
Image - Rona Hu
Dr. Rona Hu
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine; Founder, Stanford Mental Health for Asians Research and Treatment (SMHART) Clinic
Image - Lisa Fortuna
Dr. Lisa Fortuna
M.D., Chief of Psychiatry Department, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)