Background & Aims: Minorities whose ethnic identity is separate and distinct from the majority group in their language, characteristics, and cultural customs tend to face institutional and social barriers. Attainment of formal mental health services among the Arab-Bedouin society in the Negev was found to be underused. Hence, the question arises of what leads to the barriers to the lack of use of these services among the Arab-Bedouin society in the Negev to seek the assistance of formal mental health services. This study examined barriers and catalysts for formal mental health services while examining the unique identity of Bedouin Arab society in the Negev. The Arab Bedouin society living environment varies in three primary residential environments: (a) Residents of the established cities and localities (Rahat, Lakia, Segev Shalom, Tel Sheva, Arara in the Negev, Kuseife, and Hura), (b) residents of the undeveloped recognized villages, united under two regional councils (Neve-Midbar and Al Kasum) and (c) residents of the unrecognized villages. The present study distinguishes between Stigmatized and Non-Stigmatized barriers to attaining mental health services.
Method: The barriers to mental health services were examined using the BACE questionnaire, a tool for assessing participants’ attitudes toward mental health services and the barriers to seeking support. Ethnic identity was examined using an EIS questionnaire, which examined the ethnic identity in three dimensions; Affirmation, Resolution, and Exploration of one’s ethnic identity.
Sample: The study sample included 654 subjects from the Arab-Bedouin society in the Negev aged 18-91 (M=31.14, SD=14.71), distinguishing between three primary residential environments; the established cities and localities (433, 68.2%), the undeveloped recognized villages (85, 13.4%) and the unrecognized villages (117, 18.4%).
Results: Significant differences were found between residents of different residential environments. Subjects from established cities and localities experienced less stigmatized and non-stigmatized barriers from others. The Affirmation ethnic identity dimension was negatively associated with barriers to mental health services among the study sample.
Discussion: The present study focuses on the typology of ethnic identity (EIS) as a basis for assessing the intensity of one’s perception of his own ethnic identity as a Bedouin Arab and how the ethnic identity interacts with barriers to seeking mental health services. A stable Affirmation of one’s Arab-Bedouin identity reduces one’s vulnerability to mental health services attainment barriers.