Perceived barriers to help-seeking for depression among secondary school students in Lagos, Nigeria
Keywords:Depression, Barriers to help-seeking, Adolescents, Mental Health Literacy, Stigma, Treatment-gap, school-children, Nigeria
Objective: In spite of a wide range of effective treatment options, a huge treatment gap persists for depression among adolescents especially in low and middle-income countries. The barriers to help seeking for depression among Nigerian adolescents are currently under-researched. Identifying these barriers is critical to the design of interventions towards better utilisation of mental health services. This study assessed the barriers to help-seeking for depression among adolescent secondary school students in Lagos Nigeria.
Method: Using a cross-sectional study design, 156 adolescent students attending a public co-educational secondary school in Lagos, south-West Nigeria completed a vignette-based questionnaire which assessed barriers to help-seeking for depression. The vignette depicted an adolescent with depression according to the DSM-1V criteria.
Result: The mean age of the participants was 15.9 (± 1.1) years and 49% were males. The most commonly perceived barrier to help-seeking for depression was stigma (50.6%). Other barriers reported included disapproval by families/friends (21.2%), illness-related factors (7.7%), negative attitudes to treatment (7.1%), financial constraint (5.1%), ignorance (3.9%) and preference for spiritual treatment (3.9%).
Conclusion: Stigma, ignorance, misperceptions and negative attitudes to treatment are major barriers to help-seeking for depression among adolescents. Destigmatisation and mental health literacy interventions are crucial steps towards facilitating help-seeking among adolescents with depression.