Date of Conferral





Public Health


Jeanne Connors


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects more than 60% of Cambodian immigrants in the United States. However, researchers do not yet know why less than 5% of Cambodian immigrants are accessing mental health services. This qualitative study involved investigation of participants' perceptions of how PTSD is manifested in the Cambodian immigrant community to understand barriers to mental health services access. The social ecological theory provided a frame for understanding how traditions, values, culture, and beliefs affect Cambodian immigrants' perceptions of PTSD and the mental health system. Data was collected from semi structured interviews of 13 participants, 18 to 70 years of age, residing in Stockton, California, who shared their perceptions of PTSD. NVIVO was used to organize each data category for thematic analysis. The themes included: (a) hearing of PTSD, (b) meaning of PTSD, (c) contributing factors, (d) healing practices, (e) recognition of PTSD, (f) reactions, (g) reasons most often given, (h) encouraging family members, (i) healing practices, (j) ways of helping, (k) counseling, (l) medications, (m) mental health support, (n) mental health resources, and (o) want more information. The findings indicated that stigma continues to be one of the barriers in accessing mental health services, and that Cambodian immigrants have a strong desire to learn more about mental health and mental health services in San Joaquin County. Results from this study contribute to an area of mental health research that is limited, and they may be used by researchers and mental health practitioners to improve cultural understanding and awareness among diverse communities and help reduce the stigma regarding mental health issues.