But even with these advances, it's important to recognize the areas where ADHD care still faces some major challenges, such as racial disparity. The race most commonly associated with ADHD is white, which often leaves individuals in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) community left out of the conversation.
Learn more about how ADHD affects minority communities and what types of hurdles need to be overcome when it comes to accurate diagnoses and quality care.
Rates of ADHD in Minority Communities
People in minority communities show the symptoms of ADHD at the same rate as white people. However, people of color are less likely to be diagnosed with the disorder.
This is especially true among Black and Hispanic individuals. In one study, the rates of ADHD diagnosis for children in kindergarten through eighth grade was assessed according to race. Compared to white children, Black children had a 69% lower chance of diagnosis, while Hispanic children had a 50% lower chance. For other races and ethnicities, the chance of an ADHD diagnosis was 46% lower. A review that took place over the course of 10 years had similar findings, with Black children being diagnosed only two-thirds as often as white children.
The disparity in rates of diagnosis by race is a major problem. It prevents individuals with ADHD from getting the care they need, which can have a number of ramifications for someone's academic performance, career success, personal relationships, and general happiness.
Untreated ADHD can also lead to mental distress if symptoms which are largely beyond someone's control are blamed on behavioral issues or a lack of self-discipline. While people may develop coping strategies, they’ll always struggle with symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention if their ADHD is not addressed.
Differences in ADHD Care
Even when people in minority communities are diagnosed with ADHD, the level of care they receive may not be of the same quality as a white patient with ADHD. One study found that Black and Hispanic children with ADHD were less likely to get ADHD medication compared to their white peers.
Another study involving children found that African American and Hispanic children with ADHD were more likely to stop taking medication and disengage from treatment. They were also less likely to receive adequate follow-up care when beginning a medication treatment in comparison to their white peers.
In addition to the underdiagnosis of ADHD among minorities, this creates a secondary problem of undertreatment. Especially among Black and Hispanic patients, those with diagnosed ADHD aren't always getting the treatment they need to manage their ADHD effectively.
Overcoming ADHD Stigma
One important factor to consider when addressing ADHD among minorities is the role of stigma. Unfortunately, ADHD stigma in these communities can create barriers to diagnosis and treatment. There may be resistance to a diagnosis itself coupled with insistence that different parenting techniques or individual effort could serve as solutions to someone's symptoms. Others may look down on those who use medication as treatment, especially for children with ADHD.
It would be dismissive to brush this off as ignorance. There are many reasons that people in minority communities may have distrust for certain diagnoses or medications. For example, it's no secret that Black people have suffered from historical and medical maltreatment. Even today, Black and Hispanic patients continue to face discrimination in a number of medical settings and may be more at risk for adverse outcomes.
When someone's trust in the medical system has been eroded by these experiences, it can be harder to accept that a diagnosis is accurate or that a treatment is safe. It's critical that healthcare providers consider these factors when treating people from minority communities with ADHD.
Get the Care You Need
Are you a part of a minority group? Have you struggled to get a diagnosis or ADHD treatment? Do you worry about the ramifications that an ADHD diagnosis may have due to stigma within your community?
The licensed clinicians at Done come from all walks of life and are ready to guide you every step of the way. In fact, it's our mission to make sure that every individual with ADHD has access to the quality care they need, regardless of factors like race and ethnicity. With our telehealth appointments, you'll have total privacy since you'll never have to step foot inside a doctor's office for your ADHD care. You can ask all the questions you want and get expert, judgment-free answers from our board-certified clinicians.
Don't waste another day wondering whether ADHD is holding you back. Get a thorough evaluation from our clinicians to find out if you have ADHD. If you do, we'll walk you through the treatment options and help you find an ADHD medication that works for you. Take our one-minute online assessment to get started.