Addressing Gaps in Mental Health Needs of Diverse, At-Risk, Underserved, and Disenfranchised Populations: A Call for Nursing Action
Geraldine S. Pearson, Vicki P. Hines-Martin, Lois K. Evans, Janet A. York, Catherine F. Kane, Edilma L. Yearwood
Archives of Psychiatric Nursing
September 26, 2014
Psychiatric nurses have an essential role in meeting the mental health needs of diverse, at-risk, underserved, and disenfranchised populations across the lifespan. This paper summarizes the needs of individuals especially at-risk for mental health disorders, acknowledging that such vulnerability is contextual, age-specific, and influenced by biological, behavioral, socio-demographic and cultural factors. With its longstanding commitment to cultural sensitivity and social justice, its pivotal role in healthcare, and its broad educational base, psychiatric nursing is well-positioned for leadership in addressing the gaps in mental health prevention and treatment services for vulnerable and underserved populations. This paper describes these issues, presents psychiatric nursing exemplars that address the problems, and makes strong recommendations to psychiatric nurse leaders, policy makers and mental health advocates to help achieve change.