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may vary by race and class because of biases on the part of psychotherapists, a new study suggests. Based on calls to hundreds of therapists, the study found that middle class patients had an easier time than their working class counterparts getting an appointment, but among middle class callers, blacks were less likely to be offered an appointment than whites. "Although we expected to see evidence of racial and class-based discrimination, the magnitude of discrimination against working-class therapy seekers, in particular, exceeded our grimmest expectations," said author Heather Kugelmass, a doctoral student in sociology at Princeton University in New Jersey. "Deeply-rooted stereotypes associated with the working class could lead to negative reactions to their requests for care," she speculated. "Even though all therapy seekers in the study were covered by the same insurance, it is possible that mental health care providers view working-class patients as a financial risk because, for example, they cannot be relied upon to keep appointments or pay insurance co-payments at the time of treatment." Kugelmass recruited four voice actors to record nearly identical voicemail messages using racially distinctive names as well as race- and class-based speech patterns. One voice actress played both the middle class and working class white female roles, while another played both black female roles, and two male actors did the same. Each "help seeker" recording mentioned symptoms of depression or anxiety, named their health insurance plan, and requested an appointment for a weekday evening and for the psychotherapist to leave a return voicemail with available appointment slots. More on this... Community mental health cuts tied to spike in ER visits The messages were left for 320 psychotherapists with solo practices in New York, who each received messages from one black middle class and one white middle class help seeker or from one black working-class and one white working class help seeker.