Abstract: Filipinx American Experiences of Social Services Utilization during COVID-19 Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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234P Filipinx American Experiences of Social Services Utilization during COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Ronna Banada, MSW, LCSW, Doctoral student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Aaron Villon, MSW, School Social Work, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Ivy Daulo, Adjunct Professor, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Suzie Weng, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, California State University, Long Beach, CA

Filipinx Americans are least likely among Asian Americans to endorse formal mental health service systems and prefer nontraditional systems of support despite high rates of depression, suicide, and eating disorders (Chan & Litam, 2021). Underutilization of services correlates with unique barriers such as mental health stigma, culturally influenced help-seeking behaviors, and absences of culturally competent providers. Mental health challenges and barriers to social services can be more complicated and challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Existing research provides evidence on Filipinx Americans experiences with accessing mental health services (Chan & Litam, 2021), however, there is an absence of research on Filipinx Americans’ experiences with overcoming the aforementioned barriers while simultaneously enduring additional hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to elucidate this gap in literature.


This project used an exploratory qualitative design. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducted with 20 participants using purposive and snowball sampling. Data analysis followed the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1999). First, open coding was used to break down the data into smaller codes that could stand alone for categorizing and to detect repeated patterns. The repeated patterns were then sorted into concise categories to assist in identifying emerging themes. Each code was then compared] and contrasted in each category against all codes in all other categories. This process allows for comparing and contrasting of codes and categories to ensure that all codes within each category are consistent. Last, the categories were linked to tell a story for theme development.


Themes emerged from the data including: 1) Perceptions of shame and stigma around mental illness and help-seeking were expressed through generational differences, religious beliefs, and not wanting to revisit past traumatic experiences, 2) exposure to information about mental health services influenced participants’ willingness to seek out their own mental health treatment, 3) pandemic experiences, including shifting norms and routines, being confined at home, and being on “survival mode” impacted mental health and access to services.

Conclusions & Implications

These findings contribute to the limited literature on mental health service utilization of the Filipinx Americans population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it provides outreach strategies and interventions to attract and retain Filipinx Americans clientele. Additionally, this study illuminates the unique needs and will center on the importance of addressing the mental health needs of this population during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.


Chan, C., & Litam, S. (2021). Mental health equity of Filipino communities in COVID-19: A framework for practice and advocacy. The Professional Counselor, 11(1), 73–85. https://doi.org/10.15241/cdc.11.1.73

Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1999). The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Aldine Transaction.