The Relationships Between Perceived Discrimination and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among African Americans and Caribbean Blacks

J Immigr Minor Health. 2019 Dec;21(6):1241-1247. doi: 10.1007/s10903-018-0836-0.


Although all ethnic/racial groups underutilize mental health services, only about one-third of African Americans and Caribbean Blacks in need utilize mental health services. An extensive literature review led us to examine if an association between perceived discrimination and mental health utilization exists. The National Survey of American Life 2001-2003 nationally representative dataset was analyzed. Variables including utilization of mental health services, perceived discrimination, and socio-demographic variables were assessed for their relationships. The study found that each of the following predictors statistically significant: being male, being employed, having household income higher than 100,000, perceiving no discrimination, being African American, or being Caribbean Black are less likely to utilize mental health services than their counterparts. This study contributes to the emerging body of evidence demonstrating that perceived discrimination has a strong connection with the utilization of mental health services.

Keywords: African American; Caribbean Black; Perceived discrimination; Racial/ethnic disparities; Utilization of mental health services.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data
  • West Indies / epidemiology