Lay Beliefs About Emotional Problems and Attitudes Toward Mental Health Care Among Parents and Adolescents: Exploring the Impact of Immigration

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Abstract

Objective: Individuals’ lay beliefs about mental health problems and attitudes toward mental health care are thought to be influenced by the cultural background of these individuals. In the current study, we investigated differences between immigrant Dutch and native Dutch parents and adolescents in lay beliefs about emotional problems and attitudes toward mental health care. Additionally, among immigrant Dutch parents, we examined the associations between acculturation orientations and lay beliefs about emotional problems as well as attitudes toward mental health care. Method: In total, 349 pairs of parents and their adolescent children participated in our study (95 native Dutch, 85 Surinamese-Dutch, 87 Turkish-Dutch, 82 Moroccan-Dutch). A vignette was used to examine participants’ lay beliefs. Results: Immigrant Dutch and native Dutch parents differed in their lay beliefs and attitudes toward mental health care, whereas hardly any differences were revealed among their children. Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch parents showed more passive and fewer active solutions to emotional problems compared to native Dutch parents. Additionally, Moroccan-Dutch and Surinamese-Dutch parents reported greater fear of mental health care compared to native Dutch parents. Furthermore, the results showed that immigrant Dutch parents who were more strongly oriented toward the Dutch culture reported less fear of mental health care. Conclusion: Our results showed clear differences in lay beliefs and attitudes toward mental health care between immigrant Dutch and native Dutch parents but not between their children. Substantial differences were also found between parents from different immigrant Dutch populations as well as within the population of immigrant Dutch parents.

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