Objective Significant numbers of U. S. children have diagnosable mental health problems, but only a small proportion of them receive appropriate services. The current study aims to understand factors, including stigma, associated with parents’ help-seeking behaviour related to child behaviour problems and to determine if there are cultural differences in those factors.
Method Participants were the parents and/or legal guardians of children ages 3–8 years recruited from primary care settings in 2 locations within the U. S. One group was Caucasian (n = 128) from a rural area and one group was African American (n = 101) from an urban location. Variables included child behaviour, stigma (self, friends/family, and public), object of stigma (parent or child), obstacles for engagement, intention to attend parenting classes, sources of and preferences for parenting advice, and demographics.
Results Parents perceive stigma associated with child behaviour problems and there were differences between the groups on the types of stigma, the object of the stigma, and the relationships to help-seeking. Group differences were also found regarding the sources of and preferences for parenting advice.
Conclusions Parent stigma should be considered in the design of care models to ensure that children receive appropriate and timely preventative and treatment services for behavioural/mental health problems.