Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin Examines Barriers to Mental Health Services for Immigrants
The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin on Sunday examined how many newly arrived immigrants in the U.S. do not seek mental health care services because of cultural and language barriers.
Vietnamese, Chinese, East Indians, Haitians, Hispanics, Mexicans and Russians generally do not speak openly about mental health issues, Doris Cheung, diversity director of the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier, said. She said, "Some believe (mental illness) is God's punishment, others believe it's karma for having lived a bad life in the past and some believe in supernatural causes, for example evil spirits." In addition, it is also difficult for some non-English speaking people to access mental health services because of language barriers.
Cheung said mental health agencies must "[r]each out to those groups and prove that you can serve them; if they can't be understood at the grocery store, they may not trust they'll be understood by mental health providers." She added, "For immigrants, there are a lot of cracks in the system" (Zehl, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, 4/12).