california healthcare

Alyssa Kapnik Samuel


In many African-American communities, mental health issues have a history of being undertreated and underdiagnosed. According to the federal government’s Office of Minority Health, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, but less likely to seek treatment.


This is part one of a three-part series addressing mental health care within black communities.

Violinist Danielle Taylor is tall, in her late 20s, with a shaved head and a beanie cap propped to the side. She smiles a lot and upon meeting her for the first time, my instinct is to give her a hug instead of a handshake. When she picks up her violin for an impromptu song, she shifts into a deep calm.


If someone you loved was suffering from a serious mental illness, or seemed like they were on the verge of a psychotic breakdown, you might think you could turn to a psychiatric hospital for help. But in California, that might not do you much good. Institutions have the right to turn a person away unless they’ve been taken into custody. More than ninety percent of patients in California psych hospitals have dealt with police first.

Earlier this week, soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner filed a brief challenging the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act. But the 32 million Americans who would receive access to healthcare from the reform bill have more to worry about than Boehner and the Republican party. There’s currently a shortage of primary care physicians in some areas of the nation, and it’s about to get worse.