Do Cultural Misconceptions About Mental Illness Coupled With Other Social Barriers Prevent Somalis In Minnesota From Seeking Mental Health Treatment?


Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Rosella Collins-Puoch


Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the United States that is estimated between 28, 000 and 60, 000 (Minnesota Historical Society, 2015). Somalis in the United States have a low rate of mental health utilization despite experiencing trauma in their homeland (Ellis et.al. 2010). There is a gap in the current literature on if cultural values coupled with social barriers prevent Somalis in Minnesota from seeking mental health services and how to address these barriers. This study examined data from eight qualitative interviews with mental health professionals with experience working with Somali consumers in the greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. These interviews explored the Somali community's views on mental health, barriers faced by the community, the role of traditional and spiritual treatments and how to overcome the barriers when providing mental health services to Somalis. The themes that emerged from the data suggest that it is important to understand how Somalis conceptualize mental health, and the need for community psycho-education and combining traditional Somali and Western treatment methods. In addition, the data identified current barriers such as concerns about confidentiality when working with interpreters, as well as how to address the barriers. The implication of this research is it may be used to inform the delivery of mental health services to the Somali community. This can also be used to inform in the development of policy to address the disparities of mental health services in Minnesota.


Somali mental health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.