Data Transcription 1
1. Research question
What are barriers to mental healthcare access experienced by West and Central African immigrants in the United States?
2. History of the participant
I: Mr. Emmanuel tell me a little about you, what part of West/Central Africa you are from, Gender, Interaction with other people and Interaction with healthcare
R: I am from Cameroon, west Africa. Been in the US for 5 years. In Cameroon we live as a community so I try my best to meet with others from the region when I can. Regarding healthcare, I go to the hospital when I need too but no mental healthcare access since I have been to the US.
I: What are the lived experience as a person with mental health disorders or knows someone who does?
R: I know of a Cameroonian who has had a mental breakdown for about 4-5 times. It has been traumatizing for friends and family around him. Right now, people from Cameroon are going through a civil war crisis which is kind of placing a lot of stress to their family residing here in the US.
I: Any problems one can define as a culturally based stigma?
R: Yes, there is a lot of stigmas because people are thought to be strong to man up and handle stress within them. It is hard to say one is stress.
I: How do you define of mental illnesses?
R: The basic of mental health starts with stress. The individual I mention always goes into crisis when stress from my experience
I: What are examples that qualify to be mental health illnesses
R: Stress, trauma, crisis, depression
I: How challenging is it to access medical help?
R: It has been very challenging due to cost. Most Cameroonians come in like first generation Africans and it is hard to generate income to cover the cost for health care and to see specialist so many turns to ignore their mental health.
I: How has been the experience when seeking help?
R; I have not seek mental health care.
I: Are there any barriers? Which ones
R: Stigma people afraid to open up, finances, means to take care of physical and mental health, lack of awareness because we live with it back home.
3. Current feeling
I: What are your feelings regarding past experiences?
R: Education is helping me to accept some realities. Back home I would like to raise more awareness about stress, trauma and impact of civil war. Kidnapping and loss should seek mental help, but they overlook all these which affect them in the long run.
I: If the same experience happened today, what would be your response
Education and awareness
4. Barriers to access to mental health services among African immigrants
I: Why is it challenging to access mental health services?
R: Cost, stigma, lack of trust with health care providers
I: How does cultural stigma occur for African immigrants when seeking help?
R: People do not want family to know they are struggling mentally. They want to look strong. It is a cultural thing to be strong.
I: What are your experiences with mental health providers or hospitals?
R: I haven’t had any interaction with mental health providers, but I have visited the hospital for physical checkups.
I: How has it been living as a West or Central African immigrant?
R: It has been hard in the sense that the community aspect of life is missing here. Neighbors don’t ay hi and you have to find community members to interact with which becomes lonely and stressful. We try to create a small community to share with each other.
I: How did you discover you had developed mental illnesses?
R: Denial. The person is not accepting that he has a mental health issue. But he had a psychotic episode and we had to call for help. After this episode he is still in denial due to the stigma.
I: What efforts have you made to ensure you get mental health-related services? Were they successful?
R: He was placed in treatment and medication, but the cost was not affordable to pay for mental health counselor to follow up or a therapist. No it was not successful.
I: What would you wish that the federal, state, or local governments do to improve the current situation faced by African immigrants as they struggle to get medical help?
R: Black people live in a lot of fear and easily get triggered mentally. The govt could make it more accessible. Most people don’t get treatment because of the cost. Make it user friendly to pull toward services.
I: What is your perception regarding the future of African immigrants experiencing mental health services?
R: My wish is that it should improve but we are a long way from there. Stress is coming from work, systemic racism, community, it is hard. It is going to take some time.
I: What is the role of medical providers in increasing the challenges or barriers faced by African immigrants in accessing mental health services?
R: Lack of trust. I think they should gain the trust of Africans. For instance, many Africans are hesitant of taking the covid vaccine due to past experiences where medical providers treated them unfairly which build up a lack of trust in the healthcare system. Restoring some trust might help the community is regaining access.