The Relationship between the Acculturation of Older Foreign-Born African Immigrant Parents in the United States and Their Attitude towards the Utilization of Mental Health Services for Children

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Rates of mental health disorders are high among U.S. minority adolescents, especially in California where African American adolescents have the highest mental health disorders among any other race/ethnicity (California Health Care Foundation, 2018). Furthermore, African American adolescents utilize mental health services at much lower rates compared to their White counterparts (Division of Diversity and Health Equity, 2017). African American adolescents not utilizing mental health services may be influenced by their parents’ unwillingness to seek mental health services for them (Polaha, Williams, Heflinger, & Studts, 2015; Mukolo, Heflinger, & Wallston, 2010). The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between the acculturation of older, foreign-born African immigrant parents in the United States and their attitude towards the utilization of mental health services for children. A convenience sample of 104 older foreign-born African immigrant parents were recruited from predominantly African churches and community centers in Southern California. A self-administered, four-page survey questionnaire based on the Suinn-Lew Self-Identity Acculturation Scale and the Parental Attitudes Toward Psychological Services Inventory (PATPSI) were used to measure older foreign-born African immigrant parents’ level of acculturation into the United States and their attitudes towards using mental health services for children. Measures also examined participants’ levels of education, gender, and length of stay in the U.S. Results showed that there was a statistical significance between the relationship of the length of stay in the U.S. and parents’ attitudes toward using mental health services for children (r(90) = .22, p < .05). Future public health directions are discussed at the end of this paper.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Mental Health, Health Education