Attitudes of Older Korean Americans Toward Mental Health Services

Authors

  • Yuri Jang PhD,

    1. From the *Department of Aging and Mental HealthSchool of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FloridaDepartment of Psychology, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.
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  • Giyeon Kim MA,

    1. From the *Department of Aging and Mental HealthSchool of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FloridaDepartment of Psychology, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.
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  • Lianne Hansen,

    1. From the *Department of Aging and Mental HealthSchool of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FloridaDepartment of Psychology, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.
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  • David A. Chiriboga PhD

    1. From the *Department of Aging and Mental HealthSchool of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FloridaDepartment of Psychology, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.
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Address correspondence to Yuri Jang, PhD, Department of Aging and Mental Health, Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, 13301 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33612. E-mail: yjang@fmhi.usf.edu

Abstract

Given the increasing evidence that older ethnic minorities underuse mental health services, the present study assessed determinants of attitudes toward mental health services with a sample of older Korean Americans (N=472). Adapting Andersen's behavioral health model, predisposing factors (age, sex, marital status, education, length of residence in the United States), mental health needs (anxiety, suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms), and enabling factors (personal experiences and beliefs) were considered as potential predictors. Shorter residence in the United States and higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with more-negative attitudes toward mental health services. Culture-influenced personal beliefs (knowledge about mental illness and stigmatism) were found to play a substantial role in shaping individuals' attitudes toward mental health services. Findings call attention to the need to investigate how culture influences the response to mental health needs and to develop community education and outreach programs to close the gaps between mental health needs and service utilization in older ethnic minority populations.

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