Perceived Need for Mental Health Care: The Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Socioeconomic Status

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Racial/ethnic minority populations underutilize mental health services, even relative to psychiatric disorder, and differences in perceived need may contribute to these disparities. Using the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys, we assessed how the intersections of race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status affect perceived need. We analyzed a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (18years or older; N= 14,906), including non-Latino whites, Asian Americans, Latinos, African Americans, and Afro-Caribbeans. Logistic regressions were estimated for the total sample, a clinical need subsample (meets lifetime diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder), and a no disorder subsample. Perceived need varies by gender and nativity, but these patterns are conditional on race/ethnicity. Men are less likely than women to have a perceived need, but only among non-Latino whites and African Americans. Foreign-born immigrants have lower perceived need than U.S.-born persons, but only among Asian Americans. Intersectional approaches to understanding perceived need may help uncover social processes that lead to disparities in mental health care.