Mental health literacy of Koreans and Korean Americans
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Despite high rates of suicide and mental health concerns (Duldulao, Takeuchi, & Hong, 2009; Kisch, Leino, & Wilverman, 2005; Lee, Park, Lee, Oh, Choi, & Oh, 2018; World Health Organization, 2019), many Asian Americans including Koreans and Korean Americans do not seek mental health services (Lam & Zane, 2004; Lee, Hanner, Cho, Han, & Kim, 2008; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Sue, Cheng, Saad, & Chu, 2012). Especially for Koreans and Korean Americans, stigma (Masuda & Latzman, 2011) as well as cultural values (e.g., Cheng, Leong, & Geist, 1993; Cheong & Snowden, 1990; Kim & Omizo, 2003; Tracey, Leong, & Glidden, 1986) can prevent them from seeking appropriate services. The current study compares Korean, Korean American, and non-Korean emerging and young adults’ mental health literacy (Jorm, Korten, Jacomb, Christensen, Rodgers, & Pollitt, 1997), specifically mental health knowledge, confidence in finding appropriate mental health services, and attitudes towards mental disorders and treatment. A pilot study was conducted to tailor the Mental Health Literacy Scale (O’Connor & Casey, 2015) to answer the main research questions and examine internal consistency and validity. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to assess the differences among the sociocultural groups (i.e., Koreans, Korean Americans, and non-Asians) and investigate individual and contextual influences (e.g., age, gender, citizenship). The results demonstrated that (1) non-Asians have significantly higher mental health knowledge scores, higher self-efficacy, and less negative attitudes towards mental disorders compared to Koreans and Korean Americans and (2) there were no significant differences in the scores between Koreans and Korean Americans. The discussion section describes the importance of enhancing mental health literacy and increasing help seeking behavior for Koreans and Korean Americans and suggests cultural factors to consider in creating culturally appropriate outreach programs.