An Ecological Systems Theory Approach In Looking at Mental Health Care Barriers in the Latino Community
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This study is an analysis of the association between mental healthcare barriers at the microsystem level using an ecological systems theory and key demographic variables among Latinos 18 years of age and older residing in the U.S. The analysis is based on a multi-stratified random sample collected in 2005 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 2005 NSDUH primary principle is to measure the occurrences of drug use in the United States; however, the survey also covered questions concerning issues surrounding mental health. The purpose of this study is to provide social workers a better understanding of mental healthcare barriers in the Latino community. The literature findings suggest that Latinos underutilize mental healthcare services more than any other ethnicity. Very few studies have attempted to explore possible justification as to the low rates of mental health care among the Latino community. Furthermore, these studies have not had a wide-ranging list of possible barriers that Latinos encounter regarding mental health care. Using an existing database, key demographics and mental healthcare barriers were compared using chi-square to consider possible associations between them. Some barrier variables (at the microsystem level) that were similar to each other were joined together to make up one barrier variable. Finally, key demographic variables and barrier variables were analyzed to determine which associations had any significance. No statistical significance was found between key demographic variables and microsystem level barrier variables posed by this study. The sample taken was primarily a homogeneous sample with pregnant females being the majority of the respondents, thus, not making a good representative sample of Latinos in the U.S. Finally, further study is needed in this area, along with overall mental health care in the Latino community at all levels of social work practice.