Winter 4-14-2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Jayne K. Sommers

Second Advisor

Aura Wharton-Beck

Third Advisor

Vernon H. Klobassa


This phenomenological study examined how Somali college students made meaning of their perception of seeking mental health services. I selected 10 participants (three men and seven women) who attend four-year colleges in Minnesota. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews. Five major themes emerged from the data collected from the 10 participants. The first theme revealed the challenges faced by Somali college students to adjust to American educational institutions. The second theme indicated the awareness of mental health by the study participants. The third theme explored the challenges of seeking mental health services by the participants. The fourth theme showed the coping mechanisms by participants when dealing with mental health issues. The fifth theme addressed improving help-seeking attitude among the Somali higher education students. Acculturation theory (Chai et al., 2019; Ngo, 2014) explained the interaction between immigrant communities and the host culture. Generational trauma theory (Gillespie, 2020; Kahn & Denov, 2014) discussed how the trauma experienced by one generation is extended to other generations and causes stress and depression. The findings of this study indicate high acculturation plays a crucial role in accessing resources. Moreover, cultural misconceptions become obstacles to seeking mental health resources. Future research should expand on this study to understand how best to support Somali college students and meet their emotional health needs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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