Socio-cultural Predictors of Parental Help-seeking for Child Psychopathology
The primary goal of this study was to test the role of social determinants, including race/ethnicity, household income, and parent education in predicting child mental health services utilization. Given previously established racial/ethnic disparities in utilization of health care, we were also interested in whether parents perceived barriers to using service differed by service type (medical vs. mental health care) and whether there were racial/ethnic differences in parents' perceived barriers, attitudes about child mental health services. Lastly, we tested whether parents' perceived barriers, attitudes about child mental health services, and insurance status mediated the relationship between social determinants and child mental health service utilization. Participants were a community sample 275 parents (34.2% African American, 36.7% Caucasian, and 29.1% Hispanic) of children ages 9 - 13 years old. Parents were given measures assessing their utilization of child mental health services, beliefs about child mental health services, and perceived barriers to obtaining mental health and medical services.
Results indicated that minority parents were not less likely than Caucasian parents to seek child mental health services when controlling for parent education, household income, and child problems. Hispanic parents reported barriers as more inhibiting than did African American parents and parents overall reported greater barriers to obtaining mental health services. We found moderate support for insurance status as a mediator between being Hispanic and mental health service utilization. Parent education overall seemed to be an important predictor of child mental health services utilization; parent education predicted parents' reports of stigma and stigma was negatively associated with child mental health service utilization. Potential implications these findings might have for policy and practitioners and directions for future research are discussed. Specifically it may be important to strengthen trust of mental health care providers, increase cultural sensitivity and awareness of parents' attitudes for practitioners, and educate parents about health insurance options and about mental health and mental health care in general.
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