In the metro Atlanta community, health inequalities are rising, resulting in a pronounced disparity in the availability of quality healthcare across demographics. As a result, many non-profit organizations are emerging to spread this awareness and propose solutions.

According to data from Central American Progress, 6.3 percent of Asian American adults received mental health services, compared with 18.6 percent of non-Hispanic white adults in 2018. This data is not only true for a particular race, but also holds true across multiple racial backgrounds; for example, 8.8 percent of Hispanic adults received mental health services compared with 18.6 percent of non-Hispanic white adults in the same year. 

Health disparities persist within the local community of metro Atlanta, creating a gap in access to quality healthcare among various demographics. This issue is receiving growing attention from organizations with the goal of creating a community where everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, has equal access to healthcare and support for their well-being. This vision fuels their commitment to bridge the gap in health disparities. 

“From the past, racial segregation and other cultural stigmas was a major cause to the health disparities in our community, as some had difficulties in accessing healthcare,” said University of Georgia public health researcher and professor Zhuo Chen. “The different ethnicities and races often experience language barriers, cultural differences, and mistrust of the healthcare system can deter individuals from seeking or receiving proper care. This can truly lead to miscommunication and a lack of culturally sensitive healthcare services.” 

Chen has been researching the effects of health disparities and their correlation with socioeconomic status and racial and ethnic minorities, focusing on the solutions in the metro Atlanta community. 

A range of minorities reside in metro Atlanta and have had experiences with inequitable health care. Lee Sang Kyun, CEO of a local recycling business, told the News about his own experience with health disparities. 

“As an ethnic minority, it is definitely challenging to go up to any health department and ask about the healthcare services such as insurance, treatment, and vaccines,” he said. “The cultural stigma, such as the language difference and necessity of translators every time is a big obstacle for us Asian Americans. I think increasing services and interventions of minority healthcare by hospitals could be effective.” 

Kyun is an immigrant who moved to the United States five years ago from South Korea. He said he believes that reaching out for health care should be easy and fair for everyone and is raising his voice for better minority services in local health departments and officials. 

To spread awareness of this issue, a few organizations are advocating for improved healthcare policies for minority groups. 

Notably, the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, or CPACS, is a non-profit organization promoting self-sufficiency and equity for immigrants, refugees and the underprivileged through comprehensive health and social services. Jennifer Zuniga, a youth program coordinator for the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc., spoke about her experience with the health disparities and solutions that CPACS has attempted.

“As an immigrant from Mexico who arrived in the United States at age one, my experiences with health disparities in our community have been shaped by navigating healthcare access challenges, language barriers, and cultural differences,” she said. “These disparities underscore the importance of inclusive healthcare policies and initiatives to ensure equitable and culturally sensitive services for all members of our diverse community. In my efforts to address health disparities, I’ve explored solutions such as community health programs and outreach initiatives tailored to the needs of immigrant communities. Despite these efforts, persistent challenges like limited resources and lack of awareness have made it difficult for these solutions to fully address the complex healthcare issues faced by our community.”

Zuniga is putting in her best effort to spread this awareness with CPACS, as she promises for a better community for minorities, including herself. 

In metro Atlanta, many other non-profit organizations are continuously standing up for health equity including Afghan American Alliance of Georgia, Equity Minds and Atlanta Mission. 

With these collective efforts, the societal issue of health disparities is seeking its way to health equity.