Online Program

Mental Health Help-Seeking Behavior of Cultural Minority Groups among College Students

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Maureen Monahan, M.A., Clinical Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Melanie Bozzay, B.S., Clinical Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Lindsey Steding, M.S., Clinical Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Kimberly Gryglewicz, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, College of Health and Public Affairs, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
LaDonna Gleason, B.A., University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Marc Karver, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: Approximately 10 million U.S. young adults (18-25) had a serious mental illness in 2012, yet 46% of those individuals did not receive mental health treatment (SAMHSA, 2013).  Much of the extant literature examining this growing public health problem fails to include diverse samples of ethnic, cultural, and racial minorities (Gonzalez et al., 2012; Vogel et al., 2013).   Thus, it is imperative to examine underrepresented groups’ reasons for not seeking mental health treatment as to erode these barriers and effectively provide access to needed mental health treatment for students of diverse backgrounds. 

Methods: The present study examines data from a survey administered to students at a university in the southeastern United States as part of a campus-wide initiative to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention program.  A total of n= 2,527 students responded to each question pertaining to mental health history and mental health service utilization.  Respondent demographics include Latino/a (n= 649), African American (n= 337), Asian (n= 429), Alaskan Native/ Native American (n= 61), LGBTQ (n= 538), and Veteran and Active Military (n= 92), among others.  

Findings: Approximately 75% of participants indicated experiencing at least one significantly distressing emotional issue within the past year, while only 16.6% of these respondents sought professional help (e.g., psychiatrist).  Preliminary findings showed differential patterns of help-seeking behavior and differential perceived barriers to help-seeking by ethnic, cultural, and racial minority groups.

Implications: Campus-wide needs assessments can gather vital information that can generate recommendations for circumventing perceived barriers such as including targeted campaigns and prevention efforts.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify differences in how ethnic, racial, and cultural minorities seek help for mental health concerns. Identify differences in reasons for not seeking help among students of diverse backgrounds Understand proposed suggestions for circumventing these barriers including prevention efforts targeted towards cultural minority groups.

Keyword(s): Needs Assessment, Minority Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a doctoral student with a masters degree, I am working directly on three federally funded grants that aim to implement widespread suicide prevention efforts across a college campus as well as across the state of Florida. My roles include program planning, data collection, and program evaluation. I work as part of a team that has been involved with suicide prevention research and presentation of findings at national conferences for over 15 years.
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.