Objectives: We examined correlates and rates of past-year mental health service use in a national sample of Latinos residing in the United States.
Methods: We used data from the National Latino and Asian American Study, a national epidemiological household survey of Latinos.
Results: Cultural factors such as nativity, language, age at migration, years of residence in the United States, and generational status were associated with whether or not Latinos had used mental health services. However, when the analysis was stratified according to past-year psychiatric diagnoses, these associations held only among those who did not fulfill criteria for any of the psychiatric disorders assessed. Rates of mental health service use among those who did not fulfill diagnostic criteria were higher among Puerto Ricans and US-born Latinos than among non-Puerto Ricans and foreign-born Latinos.
Conclusions: Rates of mental health service use among Latinos appear to have increased substantially over the past decade relative to rates reported in the 1990s. Cultural and immigration characteristics should be considered in matching mental health services to Latinos who need preventive services or who are symptomatic but do not fulfill psychiatric disorder criteria.