Willingness to seek professional mental health service in Asian Americans




Yoon, Hyunwoo

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The discrepancy between mental health needs and service use has been particularly pronounced in Asian Americans. Given the negative consequences of untreated mental health problems, ways to promote their mental health service use deserve attention. Using Andersen's behavioral model as a conceptual framework, the study explored factors associated with willingness to seek professional mental health service across ethnic-subgroups of Asian Americans. The data were drawn from the 2002 National Latino and Asian American Study. Asian Americans aged 18 over (total n=2,095) were included in the analyses with Chinese (n=600), Vietnamese (n=520), Filipino (n=508), and other Asians (n=467). Logistic regression models were conducted with sets of predictors: (1) predisposing (age, gender, marital status, education, and nativity), (2) mental health needs (diagnosis of psychiatric disorders), (3) enabling variables (health insurance, English proficiency, perceived stigma, social network, and prior exposure of mental health services), and (4) an interaction term between mental health needs and enabling variables. Mental health needs reduced the odds of having willingness to seek service in the sample of Chinese Americans. Vietnamese Americans with no perceived stigma were more likely to be willing to seek professional service. A significant interaction between mental health needs and social network was found in the Vietnamese sample. The linkage between the presence of mental health needs and willingness to seek service in the Vietnamese sample was less likely when they had higher level of social network. Findings highlight similarities and differences between and within subgroups of Asian Americans in the predictors of willingness to seek professional service. The insignificant or negative relationship between mental health needs and willingness may suggest the lack of recognition of mental health problems in Asian Americans. Social network is generally considered as a facilitator for help-seeking behavior, but the combined effect of the presence of mental health needs and higher level of social network may potentially impede Vietnamese Americans from seeking professional service. The distinctive culture of Asian Americans being a collectivistic group needs to be incorporated when developing intervention programs.



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