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. De-stigmatisation and mental health literacy interventions are crucial steps towards facilitating help-seeking among adolescents with depression.
Keywords: Depression, Barriers to help-seeking, Adolescents, Mental Health Literacy, Stigma, Treatment-gap, school-children, Nigeria