Date of Conferral





Health Services


Kate Callahan


Immigrants from non-Western cultures are known to underutilize mental health services in the United States. Part of the problem is in the way how cultures recognize and classify symptoms as a mental disorder. A report from the Minnesota Ombudsman's Office for Mental Health showed that out of every 6 suicide-related deaths in Anoka Regional Treatment Center in Minnesota, 4 are of African descent. The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate the cultural view of depressive symptoms as possible predictors of attitude toward seeking professional psychiatric help. The theory of reasoned action/ theory of planned behavior provided the framework for this study. Cultural perspectives for this purpose included the recognition and the classification of depressive symptoms as a mental disorder. Gender and educational level were investigated as potential confounding factors. Measuring instruments include the type of support used, the concept of mental disorder, gender, and educational level questionnaires. Participants include 246 Nigerian-born immigrants living in Minnesota. Multiple regression analysis showed that recognition and classification of symptoms significantly predicted the attitude toward seeking professional psychiatric help. Gender and educational levels had no significant impact on the attitude toward seeking professional psychiatric help. Understanding the cultural impact on the recognition and classification of a specific symptom as a mental disorder will inform future intervention programs. If a depressive symptom is not associated or identified as a mental disorder, there will be no intention to use professional psychiatric care. With this understanding, this study will inform future intervention programs for an effective change of attitude and improved use of licensed mental health services.