Many Immigrants Have Problems Accessing Mental Health Care
The AP/Monterey County Herald on Sunday examined how many low-income immigrants and their families have problems with access to mental health treatment because of "a language barrier and a deep cultural divide."
The National Latino and Asian American Study, conducted in December 2003 with funds from the National Institute of Mental Health, found that Latino and Asian immigrants had a lower rate of mental health problems than native U.S. residents but sought treatment for their problems less often.
According to a report released in 2001 by the Office of the Surgeon General, racial and ethnic minorities often fail to seek mental health treatment because of an inability to speak English and a lack of health insurance. The report found that 37% of Latinos lack health insurance and that fewer than one in 20 with mental health problems sought treatment from mental health specialists.
In addition, the report found that Asian-Pacific Islanders were less likely to seek mental health treatment or discuss mental health problems with friends or relatives than whites. The report recommended increased research, geographic distribution of mental health providers and availability of treatments customized for patients to address the "striking disparities in knowledge, access, utilization, and quality of mental health care for racial and ethnic minorities."
According to the AP/County Herald, many immigrants also fail to seek mental health treatment because of "time-honored biases about psychological problems" (Barbassa, AP/Monterey County Herald, 12/3).