Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Social Welfare

First Advisor

Julia F. Hastings

Abstract

According to the 2014 SAMSHA National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 18.1% of American adults (ages 18 and over) experienced some sort of mental health issue. Furthermore, estimations have shown that around 20% of older adults experience some sort of mental health problem. While the percentage of older adults increase, they are less likely to use mental health care services than younger and middle aged adults. In addition, racial/ethnic minorities, such as African American and Caribbean Blacks are less likely to use mental health care services. The percentage of older racial/ethnic adults is also increasing from 18% in 2004 to 22% in 2014, and this is expected to continue increasing. The underutilization of mental health services indicates that many members of the older population are left untreated, which can decrease an individual’s quality of life and can result in significant costs to families, employers, and health systems. The study explores the differences in relationships between mental health care seeking behavior and strength of religious/spiritual beliefs between older adults (aged 54 years or older) and adults (18-53) from two racial/ethnic groups, African Americans and Caribbean Blacks living in the US using data from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL). Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were conducted using Stata version 13.1. Preliminary analyses show that mental health treatment seeking alone is related to spirituality and/or religiosity. Significant demographic controls are age, gender, and being from the South. The study indicated statistical support for strong religious/spiritual beliefs which may promote mental health treatment seeking. Future studies will need to examine the strength of religious/spiritual beliefs on mental health care seeking behavior among different demographic groups.

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