Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Lisa Kiesel


Social Work


Minnesota is home to one of the highest populations of Somali heritage in North America. Mental illness is reported to be prevalent in this population and there is an underutilization of available mental health services. The purpose of this study was to see how health providers can better identify and discuss mental illness with the Somali community to improve utilization rates of mental health clinics in the Twin Cities area. To do this, six qualitative interviews were conducted with participants who at the time were currently working with Somalis, in a hospital, clinic, or health care agency setting. Content Analysis was used as a method of analysis to identify and interpret themes found from the recorded interviews. The main themes that emerged were: 1) prevalence and recognizing mental illness; 2) the stigma of mental illness; 3) impact of interpreters; and, 4) dialoging about mental health. Findings confirm previous research studies in that there is little uniformity between health professionals on what treatments to recommend to improve utilization. However, findings showed that being culturally aware, building rapport, and discussing mental illness in terms of physical symptoms, all improve utilization rates of Mental Health Services. Somali Americans access medical health through hospitals, clinics, and health care agencies. Because of this, it is important for health care professionals to be culturally aware of Somalis and how to mutually discuss mental illness due to their access to this population.

Included in

Social Work Commons