Background: Mental health knowledge limitations may contribute to the treatment gap among Black adults. Knowledge is malleable and represents an area of focus that can potentially be used to address low utilization of mental health services.
Methods: We conducted an online cross-sectional study of Black adults in the United States (n = 262, aged 18-65 years) from diverse ethnic backgrounds (African-Americans, African immigrants, Afro-Caribbean immigrants). Gamma regression using generalized linear models was used to estimate the associations between mental health knowledge and willingness to seek help from mental health professionals.
Results: After adjusting for age, education and ethnicity, participants with higher specific knowledge about mental health (such as recognition of schizophrenia as a mental illness) were 26% more likely to report willingness to seek help from a mental health professional for personal and emotional problems (RR = 1.26, CI: 1.12 – 1.41, p < 0.001). Knowledge building interventions (such as psychoeducation) that seek to increase specific knowledge (rather than general knowledge) may correlate more strongly with utilization of mental health services among Black adults.
Conclusion: Our study highlights areas of knowledge that may serve as effective targets in construction of knowledge building interventions towards improved mental health outcomes for Black adults.