Older African Americans and Asian Americans in the U.S. underuse mental health services, despite their vulnerability to diverse mental health problems. This study examined their perspectives on the importance of various mental health problems, mental health treatment, and provider type preference. A total of 243 participants residing in Philadelphia were recruited through community-based organizations. Chi-square, ANOVA, and logistic regression were conducted to examine ethnic differences in demographic characteristics, mental health screening needs, and treatment preferences. African Americans were more likely to endorse the screening needs for depression (AOR: 3.77; 95% CI: 1.19-11.93, p < 0.05) and less likely to endorse the screening needs for suicide (AOR: 0.24; 95% CI: 0.08-0.76, p < 0.05) compared to Asian Americans. For treatment preferences, African Americans were more likely to seek help from primary care physicians (AOR: 8.26; 95% CI: 1.71-32.86, p < 0.01) and less likely to prefer medication as a treatment option (AOR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.09-0.79, p < 0.05) than Asian Americans. African Americans and Asian Americans prioritized mental health screening needs differently and had different treatment preferences, indicating that matching community needs and preferences regarding mental health services is critical to improve mental service utilization rates in the targeted populations.
Keywords: African Americans; Asian Americans; mental health providers; older adults; treatment preference.