Communities across the United States face a chronic epidemic of untreated mental health disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five American adults lives with a diagnosable mental health disorder in any given year; however, only 43 percent of those with mental health disorders receive treatment in any given year.1 In general, the prevalence rates of most mental health disorders are similar across racial and ethnic groups. At the same time, studies of rates of self-related exposure to childhood adversity indicate that members of underrepresented minority groups are more likely to have experienced adversity during childhood — and there is expanding recognition that early exposure to traumatic experiences is itself a risk factor for later health problems, including anxiety and depression.2Even in studies that reveal similar prevalence rates of mental health disorders across racial and ethnic groups, disparities exist with respect to diagnoses and treatment.3
The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality works with policymakers, researchers, practitioners, and advo-cates across the country to develop effective policies and prac-tices that alleviate poverty and inequality in the United States. Our Project on Marginalized Girls produces original research and program and policy recommendations aimed at helping improve health and education outcomes for low-income girls and girls of color.
The lead author of this report is Rebecca Epstein, the Exec-utive Director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality; the co-author is Thalia González, Associate Professor at Occi-dental College, currently serving as a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University Law Center.
The report could not have been written without the expertise lent by many generous experts who agreed to be interviewed – some repeatedly – whose names appear below, and also for the assistance we received from the Yoga Service Council. Help-ful input was also gained from the dialogue that developed at a roundtable meeting on trauma-informed yoga held in October 2015, co-hosted by the Center on Poverty and Inequality and The Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention’s National Girls Initiative in the offices of the American Institutes for Research. We also learned from our two pilot studies, funded by The NoVo Foundation and engaging the expertise, goodwill, and patience of Stephanie Covington, David Emerson, Mary Lynn Fitton, Linda Frisman, Danielle Harris, as well as those who graciously agreed to carry out the pilot study, including Jeannette Pai-Espinosaand Jessie Domingo Salu of The National Crittenton Foundation, Gwendolyn Bailey of Youth Service Inc., and Noelle Kaplan of The Art of Yoga Project. Finally, we extend special gratitude to those who reviewed the report and provided their insight to improve the final result: Stephanie Covington, David Emerson, Mary Lynn Fitton, Karen Gentile, Melissa Pelletier, and Catherine Pierce.