“Mental Health Is for Crazy People”: Perceptions and Barriers to Mental Health Service Use among Refugees from Burmaedit
Good mental health is essential to successful integration for refugee populations that resettle in the U.S. We explored perceptions of mental illnesses and barriers to mental health service use as well as solutions to current mental health problems from the perspective of refugees. The interviews with a convenience sampling of 11 community leaders (6 men and 5 women) from various Burmese ethnic communities revealed three major categories, including sources of mental illnesses (e.g. traumatic experiences and post-resettlement challenges), barriers to service use (e.g. lack of understanding about mental health, linguistic challenges, cultural stigma, alternative treatments, and unresponsive system), and proposed community solutions (e.g. community education, culturally-competent providers, and beyond mental health treatment). The findings suggest that the ethnic community can be a source of potential solutions to mitigate barriers to mental health service use.