A Mixed Methods Examination Of Attitude And Acculturation Factors Influencing Mental Health Service Receipt Among African Immigrants In The Washington Metropolitan Region
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African mental health
Immigrant mental health
Immigrants (and refugees) often have unique mental health needs that stem from the migration to a new country, acculturative stressors, and previous experiences of trauma. Despite the immense amount of literature concerning mental health issues of immigrant and refugee populations in the U.S., there is limited research addressing the psychological impact of immigration on African populations. Thus, a mixed-methods, sequential explanatory, primary data collection technique was used in this study to examine the association of mental health service (psychological help) seeking attitude and acculturation factors with mental health service receipt among adult African immigrants residing in the Metropolitan Washington region. The second exploratory study phase aimed at highlighting the lived experiences of African immigrants in the region to better understand their attitudes around mental health service seeking and provide more context for the first phase of the study. The Theory of Planned Behavior was used as the framework for examination. The first phase of the study involved administering an 87-item survey to measure socio-demographics, acculturation and attitudes towards seeking mental health services. Following preliminary analysis of the survey results, the second phase of the study included moderating three focus groups that were conducted within settings where the surveys were administered. Bivariate analyses revealed that access to mental health services, need of mental health services, African country of birth, by region, state of residence and religious affiliation were significant predictors of receipt of mental health services. Logistic regression models determined, as hypothesized, African immigrants with higher levels of mental health help seeking attitude were significantly more likely to receive mental health services compared to those who have low levels attitude. Higher levels of African acculturation reflected lower receipt of mental health services and were statistically significant; however, higher levels of American acculturation did not reflect higher receipt of mental health services. The second phase of the study highlighted the importance of culture, spirituality, stigma, and social networks in the mental health help seeking behavior among African immigrants. Ultimately, the study’s results may impact the customization of current and the development of new, engaging and culture-specific mental health education and intervention strategies.
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