Family culture in mental health help-seeking and utilization in a nationally representative sample of Latinos in the United States: The NLAAS

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American Psychological Association / Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice


Considering the central role of familismo in Latino culture, it is important to assess the extent to which familismo affects mental health help-seeking. This study examined the role of behavioral familismo, the level of perceived family support, in the use of mental health services of Latinos in the United States. Data come from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), a representative household survey examining the prevalence of mental disorders and services utilization among Latinos and Asian Americans. Analyses were limited to Latino adults with a clinical need for mental health services, indexed by meeting DSM–IV diagnostic criteria for any mood, anxiety, or substance use disorder during the past 12 months (N = 527). One-third of Latinos with a clinical need used any type of service in the past year, including specialty mental health, general medical, and informal or religious services. High behavioral familismo was significantly associated with increased odds of using informal or religious services, but not specialty or medical services. Self-perceived need and social perceptions of need for care within close networks (i.e., told by family/friends to seek professional help) also were significant predictors of service use. These results carry important implications toward expansions of the mental health workforce in the informal and religious services settings.