Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Sarah Ferguson


Social Work


This paper explores systemic barriers to accessing mental health care, using Wilber’s Integral Model as a framework. A review of the literature presents qualitative and quantitative accounts of medication access issues and consequences, availability of and timely access to providers, patients not being taken seriously, communication between providers, and suggests ways to reduce these barriers. The original methodology involved conducting qualitative face-to-face interviews with mental health professionals from free and sliding scale clinics in the Twin Cities. Results discuss changes in methodology to qualitative questions posed in an online survey format to licensed clinical social workers in Minnesota. Results identify systemic barriers to mental health care, including: how access issues frequently lead to hospital/emergency room use, a shortage of providers, long waits for appointments, and financial/insurance barriers. The results also include specific suggestions to reducing and removing these barriers. Similarities and differences between the literature review and results are discussed, as well as implications of this research to social work practice and policy. This paper recommends future research be conducted directly with in-patient mental health patients. It also recommends that the shortage of psychiatry be studied in order to discover strategies to increase the availability of and access to this service.

Included in

Social Work Commons