Race/Ethnicity and Mental Health Treatment

Project Abstract

Despite increasing rates of mental illnesses, only about half of all individuals with any diagnosable mental illness receive any form of counseling or therapy from a mental health professional. Several researchers propose that at the core of this issue is a lack of mental health treatment-seeking. Further, it has been considered that individuals do not seek mental health treatment due to accessibility concerns; therefore, several studies have focused on potential barriers to seeking mental health services. Such barriers to treatment seeking are often classified as either external/structural barriers or as internal/attitudinal barriers. Studies also show that racial/ethnic minority individuals are far less likely to seek mental health services than White individuals, even when experiencing similar difficulties or mental illnesses. As such, research has focused on how to address these specific barriers and combat disparities in mental healthcare. In recent years, the utilization of online therapy - or teletherapy - has been proposed as a possible solution by increasing accessibility to therapeutic services. While barriers created by the traditional therapy model affect many individuals, they may be more likely to affect those who are members of racial/ethnic minority groups. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many practitioners have utilized online therapy due to necessary social distancing, and current research indicates that online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy in many cases. The question is no longer about whether online therapy can be effective, but rather about whether individuals will utilize online therapeutic services. The practice of psychotherapy could greatly benefit from determining specific barriers to treatment, and whether those concerns are addressed through the use of online therapy. Consequently, this study is interested in examining specific types of barriers to mental health treatment and how they might relate to therapy format preference for racial and ethnic minority individuals.

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts


Clinical Psychology


M.S. Clinical Psychology




Esther Malm, Ph.D.

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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