Removing Obstacles to Eliminating Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Behavioral Health Care

SAMHSA GAINS bannerThis tip sheet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation draws on research in the behavioral health field based on findings that have implications for people of racial and ethnic minority backgrounds who have mental illnesses or substance addictions who often face substantial barriers to accessing community-based services prior to their justice involvement. The tip sheet is aimed at criminal justice professionals and aims to challenge mistaken assumptions, such as the idea that broad criminal justice reforms will reduce racial disparities; data from many jurisdictions show that this is not the case. Instead, reforms to reduce racial disparities must be tailored to actively address the issues that people of different races and ethnicities face around justice system involvement.