Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Len Jennings; Consuelo Cavalieri


To better address the needs of the underserved, it is necessary to understand what people perceive and experience to be barriers to mental health care access. This paper uses autoethnography to explore the following research questions: (1) what themes emerge when exploring barriers to access to mental health care, (2) what can be done to improve access to mental health care among the working poor, and (3) what do these themes tell us about the greater cultural context within which access barriers exist? Emergent themes of barriers to access to mental health care from my working-class background included (1) preventive care wastes resources, (2) mental illness is a character flaw, (3) shaming and judgment are the birthplaces of stigma, and (4) elitist knowledge is not to be trusted. Themes that emerged from a class analysis of the working poor were (1) my needs do not matter, and (2) I have less worth than those above me. It is determined that greater access will require moving away from individual-level descriptors, and more attention to structural barriers.

Creative Commons License

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

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