Thesis

Mexican immigrant women's views on western mental health services and factors that influence their decision to seek services

The purpose of this exploratory study is to develop a cultural understanding of Mexican immigrant women’s beliefs on western mental health services and what factors influence their decision as to whether they seek services. This cultural understanding comes from obtaining information from Mexican immigrant women living in the United States. Interviews take place in Merced, California and 10 women are interviewed utilizing open-ended questions. The key findings are that participants believe that cultural beliefs impact Mexican women’s decision to seek services due to the stigma associated with mental health services. In addition, the majority of participants believe that one of the biggest factors that influence Mexican women’s decision to seek services is the fear of being judged and labeled “crazy” by their culture which often includes their family. Participants state that although they are in a country that promotes mental health services, Mexican immigrant women still experience barriers to seeking mental health services. Implications for policy and practice should focus on social work education and teaching students the importance of cultural competence in order to promote best service for this population. Future research studies should involve Mexican women in general and not be limited to only immigrant women in order to obtain a better understanding of cultural beliefs and possibly identify additional barriers to seeking services and deficits in service delivery by professionals.

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