Abstract: Mental Health Service Delivery to the Filipino American Community: An Examination of the Concept of Relatability between Providers and Clients (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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49P Mental Health Service Delivery to the Filipino American Community: An Examination of the Concept of Relatability between Providers and Clients

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Aaron Villon, MSW, School Social Work, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Ronna Banada, MSW, LCSW, Doctoral student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Suzie Weng, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, California State University, Long Beach, CA
Ivy Daulo, Adjunct Professor, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA

Filipinx Americans are least likely among the Asian American population to utilize mental health services (Connor, 2016). Barriers to services include limited language concordance between providers and clients, cultural traits such as hiya (shame), stigma towards mental health, lack of Filipinx American providers, and disconnect with available providers (Connor, 2016; Martinez et al., 2020). Additionally, Filipinx Americans may prefer to use non-traditional, holistic, and familial systems of support for their mental health needs (Martinez et al., 2020). To address barriers, extant literature highlights the importance of increased representation of Filipinx Americans mental health providers and culturally attuned treatment that considers cultural norms, language preference, and help-seeking behaviors (Connor, 2016). This study takes a closer look at relatability between Filipinx Americans providers and clients.


This project used an exploratory qualitative design to conduct semi-structured interviews with 20 Filipinx Americans who utilized social services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Purposive and snowball sampling strategies were used. A constant comparative method by Glaser and Strauss (1999) was used to analyzed the data by first breaking down the data into smaller codes that could stand alone for categorizing and to detect repeated patterns. Then the repeated patterns were sorted into concise categories to assist in identifying emerging themes. Next, each code was compared and contrasted in each category against all codes in all other categories to ensure that all codes within each category were consistent. Lastly, the categories were linked to tell a story for theme development.


Themes that emerged are: 1) Providers’ lived experiences and history with mental illness helped to alleviate misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health, and allowed providers to empathize and connect with their clients; 2) shared cultural backgrounds contribute to emic perspectives in providers’ ability to build strong rapport and trust with clients based on their knowledge of Filipinx culture and language; and 3) providers’ interactions with the Filipinx American community build relationships, demonstrate support, increase engagement, and retain services utilization.

Conclusions and Implications

This study highlights the importance of emic perspectives in which providers share cultural backgrounds with clients. The findings are detailed in how providers relate to clients because of this perspective. This study elucidates the importance of culturally relevant and attuned services to a community that would greatly benefit from specialized mental health interventions. Cultural considerations, including ethnic Filipinx American provider representation, need to be considered when attempting to engage and deliver mental health services to the community.


Connor, J. B. (2016). Cultural influence on coping strategies of Filipino immigrant nurses. Workplace Health & Safety, 64(5), 195-201. https://doi.org/10.1177/2165079916630553

Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1999). The discovery of grounded theory. Aldine Transaction.

Martinez, A. B., Co, M., Lau, J., & Brown, J. S. (2020). Filipino help-seeking for mental health problems and associated barriers and facilitators: A systematic review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 55(11), 1397-1413. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-020-01937-2