Access to Mental Health Treatment by English Language Proficiency and {Race/Ethnicity}

  • Sentell T
  • Shumway M
  • Snowden L
  • 1


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • N/A


    Citations of this article.


Limited English proficiency {(LEP)} may contribute to mental health care disparities, yet empirical data are limited. To quantify the language barriers to mental health care by race/ethnicity using a direct measure of {LEP} is the objective of the study. Cross-sectional analysis of the 2001 California Health Interview Survey is the study’s design. Adults aged 18 to 64 who provided language data (n = 41,984) were the participants of the study. Participants were categorized into three groups by self-reported English proficiency and language spoken at home: (1) English-speaking only, (2) Bilingual, and (3) {Non-English} speaking. Mental health treatment was measured by self-reported use of mental health services by those reporting a mental health need. {Non-English} speaking individuals had lower odds of receiving needed services {(OR:} 0.28; 95% {CI:} 0.17–0.48) than those who only spoke English, when other factors were controlled. The relationship was even more dramatic within racial/ethnic groups: {non-English} speaking {Asian/PIs} {(OR = 0.15;} 95% {CI:} 0.30–0.81) and {non-English} speaking Latinos {(OR:} 0.19; 95% {CI:} 0.09–0.39) had significantly lower odds of receiving services compared to {Asian/PIs} and Latinos who spoke only English. {LEP} is associated with lower use of mental health care. Since {LEP} is concentrated among {Asian/PIs} and Latinos, it appears to contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care. Heightened attention to {LEP} is warranted in both mental health practice and policy.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Tetine Sentell

  • Martha Shumway

  • Lonnie Snowden

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free