An Evaluation of the Differences in Self-Reported Serious Psychological Distress, Race, Income, and Insurance Status

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Mental health is an on-going public health concern that has become a more prominent issue over the last several years. While suicide rates continue to rise, many individuals still do not receive mental health treatment. Further, a large population of adults with mental health disorders do not receive treatment for their condition despite overall increases in treatment rates in the past 20 years (Walker, Cummings, Hockenberry, & Druss, 2015). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of serious psychological distress across race categories and income levels as well as the rate of insurance coverage for mental health needs across race categories for those who have reported mental health problems within the last year. Research has shown that individuals from different ethnicities may have different barriers in accessing health services. This study employed a cross-sectional design utilizing data from the 2017 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). One-way ANOVA tests were used to evaluate separately differences in serious psychological distress across race categories and income levels. A Kruskal Wallis H test was used to evaluate differences in mental health insurance coverage across ethnicity categories. The findings of this study determined a significant difference in serious psychological distress across ethnicity categories (p < .01). A significant difference was also found in serious psychological distress across income levels (p < .01). However, no difference in insurance coverage was found across ethnicity categories.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Mental Health