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Janice M. Long


AbstractMexican immigrants are less likely to use psychiatric services compared to people from other race or ethnic groups in the United States, yet little is known about the reasons why the Mexican American population are less likely to seek mental health services. A qualitative descriptive study, guided by Leininger's culture care diversity and universality care theory, was used to explore the perceptions of mental health service use and barriers to psychiatric services for Mexican American immigrants living in the United States. After institutional review board approval was obtained, flyers were placed in five churches in a northwestern U.S state where Mexican Americans attended. Six volunteers for the study were family members of Mexican immigrants who experienced mental health issues, and consented to participate in face-to-face interviews using semi-structured and open-ended questions. Interviews were recorded then manually transcribed for analysis using Miles, Huberman and Saldana’s method of qualitative thematic analysis. Three themes resulted from the analysis: Mental health is a private and individual issue, culture plays a role in accessing mental health care, and religion contributes to decisions to seek mental health services. Results of this study may contribute to positive social change as providers become aware of the unique cultural and religious beliefs that influence Mexican Americans’ access to psychiatric health services. Future studies are needed to identify educational strategies that promote access to mental health services for Mexican American patients and families.

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