Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Personal Mental Illness Stigma and Different Types of Help-Seeking Intentions Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Immigrants (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

655P (see Poster Gallery) Personal Mental Illness Stigma and Different Types of Help-Seeking Intentions Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Immigrants

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Yali Deng, MSW, PhD student, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Theda Rose, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Background and purpose: Existing research on racial and ethnic minority immigrants’ help-seeking behavior has largely focused on formal service utilization, neglecting other dimensions of help-seeking (e.g., informal sources) that might better align with non-western cultural ideals. Further, mental illness stigma is a major cultural and attitudinal barrier to general help-seeking, which may be particularly exacerbated among racial and ethnic minority immigrants. To better understand immigrant help-seeking behaviors, this study examined 1) the factor structure of help-seeking intention among racial and ethnic minority immigrants; and 2) how mental illness stigma was associated with different types of help-seeking intentions.

Methods: This study is a cross-sectional survey using non-probability sampling. A total of 202 immigrants were recruited from a Qualtrics panel, an online research sample aggregator. The sample was largely female (59%), Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) immigrants (59%), followed by Latinx (23%) and Black (14%) immigrants, with an average age of 30 years old. Participants completed an online questionnaire including demographic and background questions (e.g., insurance, awareness of mental health services), General Help-Seeking Questionnaire (GHSQ), and Self-stigma of Mental Illness Scale. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to examine the factor structure of the GHSQ. Multiple linear regression (MLR) was conducted to examine the association between mental illness stigma and different types of help-seeking intentions. CFA was conducted using Mplus 8.3 and MLR analyses were conducted using STATA 14.1.

Results: Results of the CFA confirmed four dimensions of help-seeking behavior for immigrants: a) informal sources (e.g., intimate partner, parent, friends); b) formal sources (e.g., mental health professional, medical doctor); c) semi-formal sources (e.g., phone helpline, online forum or other web-based resources); and d) traditional sources (e.g., religious leader, traditional healer). MLR models showed that immigrants with higher levels of mental illness stigma are more likely to seek help from traditional sources, and semi-formal sources. Mental illness stigma is not associated with intention to seek help from formal or informal sources. Lack of insurance and lack of awareness of service were associated with lower intention to seek formal help. Being married was associated with higher help-seeking intention from informal sources.

Conclusions and implications: To our knowledge, this study is the first to explore the dimensionality of GHSQ among immigrants in the U.S., deepening our understanding of variation in help-seeking behaviors among different racial/ethnic minority groups. The study also adds to gaps in the literature on the association between mental illness stigma and different dimensions of help-seeking. The results indicate the importance of considering informal, traditional sources alongside formal or semi-formal mental health services. For example, training could be provided to assist mental health professionals to 1) better understand the role of traditional help-seeking sources; and 2) develop more culturally relevant services for racial and ethnic minority immigrants. Additionally, mental health professionals may consider adopting semi-formal formats (such as online) to deliver services potentially reducing concerns about confidentiality and increasing accessibility to quality care for immigrants.