Disparities in mental health service use among African-American adolescent males released from juvenile detention facilities
MetadataShow full item record
While a number of studies have indicated disparities in mental health services use among African-Americans, specific factors that account for within-group disparities have not been thoroughly addressed. Research shows that African-American adolescent males generally are less likely to utilize mental health services and this is especially true among those involved with the juvenile justice system (Hazen, Hough, Landsverk, & Wood, 2004). Previous research indicates that culture is a viable and necessary factor to consider regarding African-Americans' pattern of mental health help-seeking (Cauce et al., 2002). This study utilized a qualitative research design and the Network-Episode Model (NEM) (Pescosolido & Boyer, 1999) as the theoretical framework to examine the influence of culture on the attitudes of African American adolescent males released from juvenile detention facilities to understand their mental health help-seeking. Criterion sampling procedures were utilized to recruit for the study, two groups of African-American adolescent males (n = 54) who initially received services at John Hope Family Renewal Center following their release from juvenile detention. In-depth interviews with participants were conducted and participants' case records were reviewed. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts produced four overarching themes: (1) beliefs about causes of mental health problems, (2) other beliefs about mental health, (3) social barriers - isolation/exclusion, and (4) social network influence on service utilization. Comparisons were made between those youth who used services and those who discontinued service use. Findings revealed that: 1) participants' beliefs about the root causes of mental health problems prevented some from utilizing mental health services, 2) cultural factors partially influenced participants' attitudes and negatively shaped their behaviors towards use of mental health services. Findings also revealed that mental health stigma, ineffective treatment, fear and shame from peers, negative community reaction, and mistrust of mental health providers were important barriers to service utilization. Implications for social work practice, policy, and future research are discussed.