“… ways in which mental health providers and local churches can work together to more effectively reach individuals with psychological problems. ”
Mental health systems are striving to reduce treatment gaps and mental health disparities among people of color, including Korean-Americans (KAs). The local church is an integral part of the Korean community, and thus serves as an ideal site to conduct research and provide services. Yet mental health providers have only recently started exploring the possibilities of working with and through the KA church. Concurrently, KA churches endeavor to care for those in need, but often struggle to address the mental health problems of congregants. Collaboration between mental health service systems and local churches seems obvious, but extant partnerships are inchoate. We intend to work with a large KA Protestant church in Los Angeles, and engage in community-based participatory action research, employing a mixed methods approach to explore the hidden mental health needs of KAs and the pathways by which KAs seek help. We specifically examine the roles of stigma, social support, and religiosity. Through this project, we will set forth a framework for building capacity in churches to conduct empirical research and develop data-driven programs that refer people to appropriate levels of
care and address mental health concerns of congregants.