Researchers at Emory University and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005-2008 editions of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health on nearly 2,800 adolescent participants who experienced a major depressive disorder and received mental health treatment in the prior year. Racial/ethnic differences in endorsing each of 11 possible reasons for receiving treatment were examined and adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, health and mental health status, treatment setting, and survey year.
The researchers found that despite similar depressive symptom profiles, Hispanic adolescents were more likely than whites to endorse “breaking the rules or physical fighting” as reasons for mental health treatment. Black adolescents were more likely than whites to endorse “problems at school,” but less likely to endorse “feeling afraid/anxious” or “trouble eating” as reasons for treatment. Asian adolescents were more likely to endorse “interpersonal problems” but less likely than whites to endorse “suicidal thoughts/attempt” and “feeling depressed” as reasons for treatment.
“These findings are not surprising," said Annelle Primm, M.D., APA deputy medical director and director of APA's Division of Diversity and Health Equity, who reviewed the study. "They illustrate that culture counts with respect to a group’s conceptualization of mental illness. Giving reasons of externalizing or interpersonal problems may represent a person's preference for embracing explanations that fit within the realms of cultural norms versus accepting pathological labels, which can be severely stigmatizing and humiliating in some cultural groups.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News articles, "For Better Mental Health Care for Latinos, Look at Neighborhoods" and "How Americans' View of Black Men Affects Mental Health Care."
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