Online Program

Racial/ethnic differences in mental health help-seeking behavior among adolescents

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Melissa DuPont-Reyes, MPH, Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, NY
Kris Painter, PhD, LCSW, MHMR of Tarrant County, Forth Worth, TX
Jo C. Phelan, PhD, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY
Kay Barkin, Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County, Fort Worth, TX
Bruce Link, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, NY
Research in adolescents' mental health (MH) help-seeking behavior has shown racial/ethnic differences, particularly among black and Hispanic adolescents. Barriers to MH help-seeking among minority groups include less access to care, lower quality treatment, lack of knowledge about MH symptoms, MH stigma, and influence of parental beliefs about mental illness etiology. Using the Stigma Context for Youth Study, we examined racial/ethnic differences in help-seeking behavior and the impact of a novel school-based intervention in inducing help-seeking behavior. A diverse sample of 721 sixth graders from 14 schools comprised this unique study, which took place from September 2011 to December 2012 in Texas. Schools were randomly assigned an intervention designed to improve MH attitudes and behaviors among adolescents. To measure help-seeking behaviors, we implemented a pre/post survey with (1) vignette-based questions asking whether a subject should adopt a variety of help-seeking strategies, such as talking to friends, parents, a doctor, religious leader, school counselor, other therapist or counselor and taking medication; and (2) direct questions asking whether participants would engage in these behaviors if they were having a MH problem. At baseline, African-Americans sought help more often compared to Whites and Latinos, and African-Americans and Latinos were more willing to help a friend compared to Whites (p<0.01). At post test, African-Americans compared to White and Latinos were more willing to seek help, but less likely to seek medical help or suggest help for a vignette subject (p<0.05). Future analyses will utilize caregiver data, acculturation, and socioeconomic status to understand these initial findings.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe racial/ethnic differences in mental health help-seeking behavior among a diverse sample of sixth grade students Identify validated measures of mental health help-seeking behavior appropriate for adolescents Evaluate a school based intervention in inducing mental health help-seeking behavior among a diverse sample of adolescents

Keyword(s): Mental Illness, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research assistant on this federally funded grant since June 2011 and am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in epidemiology. I have worked closely with the research team on the implementation and evaluation of this research project, and have conducted site visits to the schools participating in the study. I previously presented at APHA in 2011 in the area of relationship violence and community violence among adolescents in NYC.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.