Therapy Fears and Help-Seeking Behaviors among Mothers: Examining Racial Differences in Mental Health Services


In the United States, approximately 20% of children and adolescents meet diagnostic criteria for a mental health diagnosis, but few receive treatment. The purpose of the current study was to explore the factors that contribute to help-seeking among mothers from diverse ethnic groups (52.5% European American/White, 23% African American/Black, and 24.6% Latinx). Participants were 122 mothers recruited from 2014 to 2017 through a convenience sample in Central Texas. Using MANOVA, results indicated that mother with no history of therapy use reported more fears about seeking therapy for children. Additionally, there was a trend towards African American mothers reporting more fears about therapists’ responsiveness and image concerns. Finally, therapy fears significantly predicted mother’s intentions to delay seeking therapy in the future. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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This research was supported by a grant awarded to the first author through the University of Houston-Downtown's Organized Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) program. Data collection for this study was conducted at UHD and approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects. We thank the participants and members of the Greater Houston community for sharing their experiences with us for this study.

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Correspondence to Erlanger A. Turner.

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Turner, E.A., Plitt, C., Gamez, Y. et al. Therapy Fears and Help-Seeking Behaviors among Mothers: Examining Racial Differences in Mental Health Services. Community Ment Health J 57, 808–813 (2021).

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  • Child mental health
  • Behavioral health
  • Parental help-seeking
  • Psychotherapy
  • Mental health disparities
  • Ethnic differences