Perceived Norms and Mental Help Seeking Among African American College Students

ArticleinThe Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research 36(3):285-99 · August 2008with34 Reads
Impact Factor: 1.37 · DOI: 10.1007/s11414-008-9138-y · Source: PubMed


    In general, African Americans do not seek mental health treatment from formal sources at the same rates as Caucasians. The present study examined whether culturally relevant factors (i.e., perceived negative peer and family norms about help seeking) influence help-seeking intentions in a late adolescent African-American sample (n = 219) and whether there is a gender difference in the predictive strength between peer and family norms. Participants were primarily female (n = 144). Multiple regressions were implemented to explore the relationship between perceived norms and help-seeking intentions. Analyses revealed that males had higher perceived peer norms, and family norms were a stronger predictor of intentions than peer norms for females. Individually, peer norms and family norms were related to help-seeking intentions. When perceived norms were analyzed together, only negative family norms were related to intentions. Findings suggest that incorporating family norms is critical when developing interventions to increase formal service utilization among African Americans.