Date of this Version
Qadeer, Z. 2023. The Perception of Stigma as a Barrier to Help-Seeking Among Immigrant Populations. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Immigrants receive mental health services less than their U.S.-born counterparts, even after accounting for the lower rate of mental health difficulties often found among these populations. Stigma is one such barrier that is significant in reducing mental health service utilization among immigrant populations. This study explores how immigrants perceive stigma as a barrier to seeking help for trauma-related mental health concerns. Using qualitative data from a study on an adaptation of Written Exposure Therapy in Latinx immigrants (Andrews et. al, 2022), I examined the role of stigma in participants’ perceived barriers to care and their proposed strategies for reducing them. Thematic analysis suggested that stigma towards traumatic event exposure and stigma towards seeking mental health services were perceived as barriers to care. Participants’ proposed strategies for reducing stigma-related barriers included increasing awareness of mental health services within immigrant communities to reduce public stigma and increasing awareness of the confidentiality of treatment. Overall, results indicate that stigma is perceived as a barrier to trauma-related mental health services, but this stigma appears primarily directed toward the traumatic events and seeking care, rather than toward the mental health difficulties themselves. Further, this stigma was infrequently endorsed as internalized or personal stigma toward these issues and were described as the effects of public stigma. Participants endorsed solutions that serve to both reduce stigma (raising mental health awareness) and work around stigma (emphasizing confidentiality).