Beyond financial and access barriers to mental health care, factors such as mistrust, perceptions of stigma and negative attitudes toward care can prevent people from seeking the help they need.
A new study, conducted by two National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellows in mental health care policy at Harvard Medical School, investigated the effect of gender, race and socioeconomic status on these psychosocial barriers to mental health care.
The findings suggest that non-Latino white males, compared to all women and men of other ethnicities, were most likely to mistrust the mental health care system and were also likely to perceive mental illness as a stigma and therefore avoid formal mental health care. Regardless of race and gender, those respondents with low income and low education were least likely to report negative attitudes towards care.
The study used data from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, focusing on adults who reported an unmet mental health care need. Study co-author Victoria Ojeda is currently an assistant professor at the University of California-San Diego, and her colleague Sara Bergstresser is a research scientist at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.
- Victoria D. Ojeda and Sara M. Bergstresser. Gender, Race-Ethnicity, and Psychosocial Barriers to Mental Health Care: An Examination of Perceptions and Attitudes among Adults Reporting Unmet Need. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2008 [link]
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