Conceptualizing factors influencing the perception of barriers to mental health treatment and help-seeking behaviors among Chinese Americans
Current literature: Despite being one of the fastest growing ethnic minority populations in the U.S., research shows that Asian Americans as a whole underutilize mental health treatment. Disaggregation of ethnic subgroups is imperative to identify within and between group differences in intentions to seek help and barriers to treatment. Study aims: This study examined selected personal and cultural factors hypothesized to influence attitudes towards professional mental health treatment among Chinese Americans. This study employed an experimental component with mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the effectiveness of alleviating practical and cultural barriers to treatment. Results: Results of this study indicated that varied dimensions of culture (i.e., ethnic identity, acculturation, Asian values) were significantly related to different components of respondents' attitudes toward mental health treatment. Results of the experimental manipulation in which practical and cultural barriers were alleviated were related to an increased likelihood to endorse seeking professional mental health treatment. Specifically, a significant experimental group by ethnic identity interaction was found, in that groups with high ethnic identity who had cultural barriers alleviated reported the highest intention to seek psychological help. Discussion: Findings of the current study highlight that the information presented about psychological treatment to minority populations can make a difference in influencing intentions to seek help. Clinical implications include the importance of improving therapists' awareness of the types of barriers to treatment clients may perceive and how professionals can make therapy more accessible and comfortable for certain minority populations.