Barriers to help-seeking in Israeli Arab minority adolescents with mental health problems: Results from the Galilee study

Raida Daeem, Ivonne Mansbach-Kleinfeld, Ilana Farbstein, Alan Apter, Rasha Elias, Anneke Ifrah, Gabriel Chodick, Silvana Fennig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Galilee Study assessed mental health service needs among Israeli Muslim and Druze adolescents and their mothers. Studies show that mothers of adolescents belonging to the Arab minority have much lower help-seeking rates than Jewish mothers. This paper examines mothers' structural and cultural barriers to help-seeking. Methods: All 9th grade students living in 5 towns representative of Muslim and Druze localities in northern Israel, were eligible for the study and 1639 (69.3%) obtained parental agreement and participated. Emotional or behavioral problem were assessed in the classroom using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. A total of 704 adolescent-mother dyads participated in the follow-up, and were interviewed at home, using the Development and Well Being Assessment inventory, the Composite Barriers to Help-Seeking Questionnaire, the General Health Questionnaire-12, the Subjective Feelings of Discrimination Index and socio-demographic questions. Pearson χ2 test and multivariate binary logistic regressions were performed to analyze mothers' consultation rates by risk factors. Exploratory factor analysis was performed to identify underlying factors and assess construct validity of the Composite Barriers to Help-Seeking Questionnaire, and also mean scores and standard deviations for the distinct scales were calculated. Results: More mothers of adolescents with a mental disorder than those without a mental disorder consulted a professional or school source (39.7% vs. 20.5%; χ2 = 45.636; p = < 0.001). The most important barriers to help-seeking were those related to "Accessibility", followed by barriers related to the belief that "Treatment is detrimental" and to the possibility of "Reprisal by authorities". Barriers related to "Stigma" and "Distrust of professionals" had the lowest means scores. Differences by ethnicity/religion were found. Conclusions: Structural barriers related to lack of access, were considered the main obstacle to help-seeking in this Israeli Arab minority population. Cultural barriers such as stigma were considered of secondary importance. Structural barriers could be reduced by increasing the number of accessible public mental health clinics in the minority localities, a responsibility of the Ministry of Health and the HMOs. Information campaigns and psychoeducation for parents would help reduce other barriers to mental health treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 May 2019


  • Accessibility
  • Adolescents
  • Barriers to help-seeking
  • Druze
  • Israel
  • Mental health
  • Muslim
  • SDQ
  • Stigma


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