Masters Thesis

Understanding how Hispanics navigate and access mental health services in Merced County

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the lived experiences of Hispanics in overcoming the barriers with, and ultimately accessing, mental health care services in Merced County. Data were collected from six Hispanic participants. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and then transcribed into the themes that emerged during the interviews. The findings from this research suggest that there are some common perceptions among participants in this study with regard to accessing mental health services. The first major finding was that most participants credited the ability of recognizing their need for care and help with supporting their psychological wellbeing, learning about helpful interventions, and noticing progress as contributing factors for accessing mental services. The second major finding was that the majority of the participants named a lack of bilingual counselors as an obstacle that arose while accessing counseling services, as well as lack of insurance, and variance in providers’ skills. Lastly, participants emphasized the importance of outreach and creating a learning environment for the clients as critical in engaging the Spanish-speaking Hispanic population in counseling services.