Race-Ethnicity as a Predictor of Attitudes Toward Mental Health Treatment Seeking

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30310, USA.
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) (Impact Factor: 2.41). 10/2009; 60(10):1336-41. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


Previous research on mental health disparities shows that persons from racial-ethnic minority groups have less access to mental health care, engage in less treatment, and receive poorer-quality treatment than non-Hispanic whites. Attitudes and beliefs about mental health treatment were examined to determine whether they contribute to these disparities.
Data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) were analyzed to determine attitudes toward treatment-seeking behavior among people of non-Hispanic white, African-American, and Hispanic or Latino race-ethnicity. Additional sociodemographic variables were examined in relation to attitudes and beliefs toward treatment.
African-American race-ethnicity was a significant independent predictor of greater reported willingness to seek treatment and lesser reported embarrassment if others found out about being in treatment. These findings persisted when analyses adjusted for socioeconomic variables. Hispanic or Latino race-ethnicity also was associated with an increased likelihood of willingness to seek professional help and lesser embarrassment if others found out, but these differences did not persist after adjustment for the effects of socioeconomic variables.
Contrary to the initial hypothesis, African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos may have more positive attitudes toward mental health treatment seeking than non-Hispanic whites. To improve access to mental health services among racial-ethnic minority groups, it is crucial to better understand a broader array of individual-, provider-, and system-level factors that may create barriers to care.

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    • "The lower utilization of mental health services among minorities is a concerning public health issue (Bhugra, 2004; Bhui et al., 2003; Juang & Cookston, 2009; Lindert et al., 2008; van der Stuyft et al., 1989; Miranda et al., 2008). The low up-take of mental health services is thought to refl ect cultural and linguistic barriers during the help-seeking process (Nadeem et al., 2008; Shim et al., 2009). There is a need for more knowledge about high-risk groups including ethnic minorities, and about culturally specifi c conceptualizations of suicide, as well as help-seeking and pathways to receive care (Bhui, 2010; Canetto, 2008; Hjelmeland, 2011; Lester, 2012). "
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    International Review of Psychiatry 02/2015; 27(1):72-81. DOI:10.3109/09540261.2014.996121 · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Recent studies on treatment engagement also show that racial and ethnic minorities are not as unwilling to seek mental health treatment as previously thought. For example, Shim et al. (2009) found that African Americans were more likely than both Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites to indicate they would engage in services and were also less likely to feel embarrassed about their help-seeking. Among immigrant Hispanic women, Nadeem and colleagues (2007) also found that Hispanics were more likely to want mental health services compared with U.S.-born White women. "
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    Women & Therapy 01/2015; 38(3-4):308-326. DOI:10.1080/02703149.2015.1059214 · 0.17 Impact Factor
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    • "The lower mental health burden among racial minorities is surprising given, minorities have less access to health care [15], lower socioeconomic status [16] and tend face higher levels of race-based discrimination [17], all of which are linked to poorer health. Some explanations for these observed differences include: culturally specific presentations of mental illness in minority groups [18], the protective effect of religious service attendance among African Americans [19], group differences in willingness to seek help in dealing with mental health issues [20, 21] and group differences in the perceived etiology and treatment of mental illness [22]. "
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