The Perceived Stigma of Mental Health Services Among Rural Parents of Children With Psychosocial Concerns

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Objective: To examine parents’ perceptions of stigma regarding mental health services for their child, consider stigma in the context of novel service delivery settings (e.g., telehealth, primary care, and schools), and evaluate stigma with other factors known to influence service access. Methods: 347 caregivers of children with psychosocial concerns completed surveys regarding their perceptions of stigma, service delivery settings, and barriers to care. Results:Parents endorsed low levels of stigma around services. Greater perceived stigma was related to less willingness to seek services in a mental/behavioral health center or schools but not in other settings, even when other barriers were considered. Having a younger child and a history of prior services was associated with greater willingness to seek services. Conclusions: Stigma does appear to present as a barrier, but only for some parents. Providing mental health services to young children and their parents in some nontraditional settings may increase access.