Help-seeking preceding mental health clinic intake among African-American, Latino, and Caucasian youths

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996 Aug;35(8):1086-94. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199608000-00020.


Objective: Pathways into child mental health clinics were studied to test this hypothesis: Prior to contacting clinics for their child's problems, African-American and Latino families are less likely than Caucasian families to seek help from agencies and professionals (and more likely to contact family and community sources).

Method: Regression analyses, applied to a sample of 192 clinic-admitted families, assessed the impact of ethnicity and income, child gender and age, and parent perceptions of child problem severity and likely treatment benefit, on preclinic help-seeking.

Results: As predicted, African-American and Latino families, compared with Caucasian families, sought help from professionals and agencies much less often, as a first step and as a percentage of all their preclinic help-seeking. With income, age, gender, and parent perceptions in the model, both African-American and Latino families were 0.37 as likely as Caucasian families to seek initial help from a professional or agency.

Conclusion: Although many minority youths are admitted to mental health clinics, seeking help from professionals may not have been their parents' preference. The apparent reluctance of minority parents carries implications for clinical intervention and alliance formation with minority group families and for the design and evaluation of ethnic community outreach programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Child
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*