As high-profile reviews have appeared and international interest has grown, sophisticated studies of the U.S. population continue to document racial and ethnic disparities in initiation of mental health care and in continuity of care. Many explanations focus on cultural factors: trust and treatment receptiveness, stigma, culturally distinctive beliefs about mental illness and mental health, culturally sanctioned ways of expressing mental health–related suffering and coping styles, and client preferences for alternative interventions and treatment-seeking pathways, as well as unresponsive programs and providers. The research itself has become more rigorous and informative, but it continues to lack theoretical focus and does not yet yield cumulative findings. Too few studies have addressed community and regional differences or differences between mental health treatment programs and systems, or considered mental health-related policies that are very likely linked to disparities. Theoretically well-formulated studies on representative samples can provide a comprehensive explanation of access disparities in cultural and culture-related terms that inform a broad-based plan of remedial intervention.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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