Bridging the gap: A pilot study of a lay health worker model to decrease child mental health stigma and promote parents' professional help-seeking for Black/African American children.

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DOI: 10.1037/ser0000620


Unmet mental health needs among children in the United States (U.S.) are at a critical status (Kimball & Miller, 2015; Perou et al., 2013), with less than half of children receiving needed care (Whitney & Peterson, 2019). Unmet mental health needs are especially pronounced for racial/ethnic minority children, including Black/African American children (Alegria et al., 2010; Cokley et al., 2014), whose rates of suicide among those aged 5-11 years has increased in the past two decades (Bridge et al., 2015). Culturally responsive strategies that build on common mental health help-seeking pathways for Black/African American families are needed to improve access to care. The Bridging the Gap pilot project described in this paper used an innovative lay health worker model embedded in faith-based networks to target child mental health stigma and promote professional help-seeking among 65 Black/African American parents of children 5-12 years old. A single-group, pretest, posttest, follow-up (PPF) design (with double pretest and double follow-up) was used to structure the delivery of the pilot program and data collection. Child mental health stigma significantly decreased after the intervention portion of the program but help-seeking attitudes stayed constant. Thirteen parents had children with clinically significant mental health needs. Of the eight parents reached for follow-up, five sought child mental health services based on individualized recommendations and the rest endorsed intentions to follow through on service recommendations. Parents endorsed satisfaction with the program and several program evaluation themes were identified through qualitative data. Recommendations and future directions are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

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Psychol Serv




Suppl 1

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