Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type



Social Work

Degree Name

Master of Science

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Kyeonghee Jang, PhD, LMSW

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Associate Professor Stephanie Hamm, MSW, PhD

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Susanna Lubanga, Resettlement Director, International Rescue Committee


Newly resettled refugees are at a higher risk of mental health disorders, but few seek formal psychological help. The purpose of this study is to explore the factors influencing refugees’ formal mental health help-seeking. Data were collected by surveying a sample of 45 refugees from three countries of the Great Lacs Regions of Africa: Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda. Multiple linear regression was conducted to examine the association between formal mental health help-seeking and factors of mental health knowledge, stigma beliefs, and socioeconomic factors.

Results show that mental health knowledge factors and the stigma belief factors measured as stigma towards socializing with people with mental health issues, and stigma towards treatment-seeking individuals was associated with formal psychological help-seeking. The effect of social support on formal mental health help-seeking was not statistically significant. The results were supported by the literature reviewed, which indicates that the lack of knowledge and stigma are the leading causes of the refugees’ underutilization of mental health services.

The presents study has several implications for practice, policy, resettlement process, and research. This study intends to inform mental health practitioners, as well as resettlement agencies about the factors that may get in the way of formal help-seeking after refugees have been assessed as requiring mental health services. Besides, the results of the present study would guide the routine screening and referral to be accompanied by an individualized intervention targeting identified factors hampering the intentions for formal mental health help-seeking. These results could be used to facilitate action plans for mental health service delivery for refugees in the process of resettlement.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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