Understanding the Behavioral Determinants of Mental Health Service Use by Urban, Under-Resourced Black Youth: Adolescent and Caregiver Perspectives

Michael A. Lindsey, Kerri Chambers, Cara Pohle, Peggy Beall, Alicia Lucksted

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Black adolescents with mental health problems are less likely than non-Black adolescents with mental health problems to receive treatment, primarily for non-financial reasons including negative perceptions of services and providers, and self-stigma associated with experiencing mental health problems. To better understand these obstacles, 16 adolescents and 11 caregivers, recruited from two K-8th grade elementary-middle schools, participated in four focus groups guided by the unified theory of behavior to explore mental health help-seeking behaviors and perceptions of mental health services. In the focus groups, caregivers acknowledged more positive attitudes about seeking mental health services than adolescents, but both expected the experience of actually doing so to be negative. Adolescents and caregivers also acknowledged social norms that inhibit their mental health help-seeking. Therefore, we conclude that interventions targeting expectancies and social norms might increase the connection of urban, under-resourced Black adolescents and their families to mental health services, and be particularly important given the long-term consequences of untreated mental health problems for this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-121
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Behaviors
  • Black adolescents
  • Caregivers
  • Help-seeking
  • Mental health service use
  • Schools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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