Barriers to Mental Health Treatment Among Individuals With Social Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are at risk for not utilizing mental health treatment. The purpose of this research was to examine barriers to treatment in a sample of adults with clinically significant SAD or GAD. Participants were 226 nontreatment-seeking adults with SAD or GAD who underwent semistructured diagnostic interview and received a clinician assessment of symptom severity as part of a clinical research study. Participants completed a self-report measure of barriers to treatment. Individual and combined associations of demographic and symptom severity variables with number of perceived barriers to treatment were examined. Individuals with GAD or SAD endorsed a similar number of overall barriers to treatment. Shame and stigma were the highest cited barriers followed by logistical and financial barriers. Both groups also endorsed not knowing where to seek treatment at high rates. Individuals with greater symptom severity reported more barriers to treatment. Racial and ethnic minorities reported more barriers to treatment even after controlling for symptom severity. Among individuals with GAD or SAD, increased education and culturally sensitive outreach initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to mental health treatment.

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