Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Help-seeking behavior, Minorities-Psychology, African Americans-Psychology, Minorities-Mental health services, African Americans-Mental health services, Schizophrenics-Mental health services, Crisis intervention (Mental health services), Center for Intervention Development and Applied Research (Boston, Mass.), Pathways to care, Race ethnicity, Prodrome, Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Young adults, Mental illness, Ultra high risk, Stigma, Stigma (Social psychology)


Few studies have examined how the mental health system in the U.S. presents barriers to help seeking especially among non-White populations. The purpose of this investigation was to identify racial disparities and psychosocial barriers to help seeking among clients in the prodrome to psychosis vulnerable to progression into schizophrenia. Using secondary data from a mixed-methods questionnaire, this study collected descriptive data relaying the perspectives of People of Color and their White prodrome counterparts on their perceived needs, attitudes, and experiences of professional mental health services. Using a sample (N=15) of prodromal individuals in the Boston-metro area, a semi-structured questionnaire measured early decisions in the pathways to care. Despite limitations of a small sample size, results suggest that People of Color found more systems-level barriers to mental health services than White participants. White participants, in comparison, found more stigma-related barriers. No statistically significant relationship was found between the magnitude or the content of discrimination experiences and the level of satisfaction with mental health services obtained. However, using an interpretive phenomenological framework, qualitative themes emerged suggesting that ethnic and race disparities are evident in the meaning-making of symptoms, mental health literacy, and attitudes that promote concordance or discordance between client and provider. Recommendations for early psychosocial intervention in psychosis and implications for social work and schizophrenia research are discussed.




iv, 90 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 65-80)