Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Armando Barragan



In the United States, Hispanics have the same prevalence of mental illness as any other group however researchers have found that they are less likely to seek mental health services. This population’s lack of mental health utilization is due to various barriers hindering the population’s need for help, a substantial for social work practitioners. To better understand the factors that lead up to that, the current study explored and identified perceptions toward seeking and receiving mental health services among Hispanic members. Using a qualitative data collection, ten participants were interviewed to elicit their perceptions about mental health services ranging from what they believed addressed their lack of seeking services and what they thought about services. Data analysis revealed five core themes among the participants’ responses: Closeness to Family as a reason for people not seeking professional help. Another theme found was environment as a reason for Mental Illness making them feel that there is no need to seek services since they can simply remove the environmental stressor and the illness will seize to exist. Existing support systems were found such as involvement in church as a form of therapy, they talked about their faith providing them a form of support for stressors. Shared culture was a theme that was found to be a necessity for therapy, they felt they did not seek services because they felt mental health practitioners would not validate their culture. The final theme was access and that theme encompassed : not knowing mental health services existed in their community, to lack of Spanish speaking clinicians. The recognition of these themes could potentially guide social work practitioners’ when they are trying to engage the Hispanic community to receive mental health services. Social workers can be aware of the obstacles toward engaging this population into professional therapy, by having an understanding of what they believe about therapy and helping to alleviate or use some of those perceptions as a form of engagement and validating existing strengths that the population has causing them to feel professional services are not needed.

Included in

Social Work Commons