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A lack of ethnic/minority diversity in mental health and substance abuse services for underserved minority populations has been well documented by the American Nurses Association (ANA), American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Institute of Medicine (IOM), and numerous other organizations.

The increase in minority nurses in the workforce over the past decade has been miniscule. The need for services from the patient or client perspective based on race and ethnicity, or gender is striking with the heaviest burdens of morbidity and mortality resting on ethnic/minority populations, who also tend to have a lower socioeconomic status, less education, restrictive language capacities, insufficient health literacy skills, and fewer opportunities for upward mobility.

Evidence suggests that –

  1. African Americans are diagnosed with schizophrenia ten times more often than other racial groups;
  2. American Indian and Alaska Native youths and young adults (ages 10 – 24) have the highest rates of suicide in the nation – two to four times greater than the same age groups in other populations;
  3. Asian Americans have less access to care when it is available;
  4. Native Hawaiian youth have higher rates of suicide attempts than other adolescents living in the Island with approximately 62% of child abuse and neglect cases in Hawaii occurring in Asian/Pacific Islander families; and
  5. Among Hispanic Americans with behavioral health disorders, fewer than 10% seek professional help.


The purpose of the SAMHSA MFP grant at ANA is to reduce these health disparities and improve health care outcomes for all racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals available to underserved minority populations in the public and private non-profit sectors, and in clinical and community-based organizations and institutions.

The MFP provides opportunities for all minority nurses to attain a doctoral degree, with certification in mental health and substance abuse disorders prevention, treatment, and recovery across the life span.