Date of Award

10-9-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Yiu-man Barry Chung, Ph.D - Chair

Second Advisor

Kenneth B. Matheny Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gregory L. Brack, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Francis A. McCarty, Ph.D.

Abstract

ABSTRACT WEST AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS’ ATTITUDES TOWARD SEEKING PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP Research is needed to better understand the impact of migration on West African immigrants’ mental health and their ability and willingness to seek traditional Western care. Therefore, the present quantitative study investigated the variance in attitudes toward seeking psychological help as predicted by degree of acculturation, severity of self-reported problems, and beliefs about the cause of mental health problems among West African immigrants in the U.S. The following research questions and hypothesis were addressed: What are the specific mental and physical health concerns of West African immigrants in the U.S.? Where do West African immigrants with mental health problems seek help? The hypothesis was that higher acculturation into the U.S. society, severity of self-reported problems, and interactional attribution beliefs about mental health problems would be significant predictors of attitudes toward seeking psychological help. Approximately 600 questionnaires were mailed to first generation West African immigrants. A total of 126 surveys were received representing a return rate of 21%. Of this number 15 were not usable. Analyses were based on the remaining 111 surveys. Each survey packet included a demographic questionnaire, a referral list for national mental health, counseling and crisis services, a business reply envelope, and a battery of 4 instruments including the Attitude Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (ATSPPH), Behavioral Acculturation Scale (BAS), Brief Symptoms Inventory (BSI), and the Mental Health Locus of Origin Scale (MHLO). Descriptive statistics were computed (percentages & frequencies) to answer the first and second research questions. In addition, one multiple regression, using forced entry method was performed to predict West African immigrants’ attitudes toward seeking psychological help as measured by the total scores on the ATSPPH, using the BAS, BSI, and MHLO scores as predictors. Finally, Pearson product moment correlation analyses were performed among the variables in examining the regression results. The results identified interactional attribution beliefs about mental health problems as the only significant predictor. West African immigrants reported various concerns with their mental and physical health. In general, they reported preference for the use of informal systems of support to resolve their emotional concerns and the use of medical doctors for physical concerns.

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