The role of discrimination and racial identity for mental health service utilization

Laura Smart Richman, Laura P. Kohn-Wood, David R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Several reports have documented different patterns in mental health service utilization among ethnic minority groups, particularly for Black Americans, in comparison to Whites. In this research, we examined individual variables that may underlie these differences, focusing on experiences of discrimination and racial identity. We used a community sample of over 1,000 White and Black American adults residing in a large Midwestern metropolitan area. Results showed that discrimination or unfair treatment was marginally associated with increased utilization for Black Americans after controlling for age, gender and psychological distress, but prior to taking SES and identity into account. For Black Americans, those with high racial identity who experienced discrimination reported a lower probability of utilization in comparison to those with low racial identity. For White Americans, only gender and psychological distress were associated with utilization. Results are discussed in terms of the functions that racial identity may play for Black Americans in the context of health seeking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-981
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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