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Focal Point: Research, Policy, and Practice in Children’s Mental Health

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Publication Date

Summer 2008


Low-income mothers -- Mental health --Treatment -- Attitudes, Low income mothers -- Social conditions, Low income mothers -- Health and hygiene


Although mothers who are economically disadvantaged have high rates of emotional distress, the rate of their use of mental health services is relatively low. What accounts for this underutilization of care? Although there is evidence that insurance coverage and access to care account for some of this disparity, barriers to mental health services reach beyond basic access issues. When considering why some choose to seek mental health care while others do not, it is important to consider treatment acceptability among low-income mothers.

Treatment acceptability is the extent to which recipients of care perceive that care as “reasonable, justified, fair, and palatable” In other words, it is not enough to make care accessible; it also has to be acceptable, or relevant to the consumer. And the more consumers view treatment as relevant or important, the more likely they are to work to overcome other barriers to seek mental health care. After all, mothers are more likely to overcome obstacles in order to get the care needed for their children than they are to get care for themselves. Therefore, other factors must play a role in order to explain why low-income mothers do not get care for their own mental health.


Originally appeared in Focal Point: Research, Policy, and Practice in Children’s Mental Health, Summer 2008, vol. 22, no. 2, pages 17-19.

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