New BCBSA report shows racial disparities in diagnosis and treatment of major depression

By Regence
June 09, 2022
BCBSA HOA report 2022 major depression racial disparaties main image

Second report in Health of America series as part of national strategy to address racial disparities in health

Mental health care and support are more important than ever, especially given the many challenges and stressors of COVID-19. Diagnosis and treatment for mental health, however, are not the same across racial and ethnic groups.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) recently released its latest Health of America report on disparities in how major depressive disorder, or major depression, is diagnosed and treated in majority Black, Hispanic and White communities. The study analyzed 3.1 million medical claims nationally from members enrolled in certain Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans from 2016 to 2020, as well as surveys for additional insights.

BCBSA HOA report 2022 major depression racial disparaties diagnosis percentages
Source: BCBSA

Key finding from the full report include:

  • Major depression goes undiagnosed and untreated at disproportionately greater rates in majority Black and Hispanic communities, leading to unnecessary suffering.
  • The presence of more mental and behavioral health providers in Black and Hispanic communities is associated with higher diagnosis rates for major depression. This suggests that increased access to these providers could mitigate the underdiagnosis of major depression in these communities.
  • Rates of treatment for major depression are lowest in Hispanic communities and lower in Black communities than in White communities. When treated for major depression, Black and Hispanic communities have a lower frequency of both prescription drug treatment and counseling.
  • Survey findings show that Black and Hispanic respondents are more likely to seek information on mental health outside of the health care system, to prefer providers with similar life experiences and perceive greater stigma about mental illness in their communities.



Regence members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.