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BMC Womens Health. 2018 May 25;18(1):73. doi: 10.1186/s12905-018-0561-9.

"It has not occurred to me to see a doctor for that kind of feeling": a qualitative study of Filipina immigrants' perceptions of help seeking for mental health problems.

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Department of Mental Health and Suicide, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O. box 4404, 0403, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Oslo University Hospital, P.O. Box 4956, Nydalen, 0424, Oslo, Norway.
Faculty of Nursing, Cumming School of Medicine, Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada.



Immigrant women face greater barriers to health care, especially mental health care, than non-immigrant women. However, immigrants are a heterogeneous group and bring with them a range of different personal, social, cultural and economic factors, which impact both mental health and access to care. In this study, we explored factors that influence Filipina immigrants' perceptions of help seeking from a general practitioner for mental health problems in Norway.


Using data from semi-structured interviews, we applied a post-colonial feminist perspective to identify factors that affect perceptions of help seeking.


Findings indicated that a combination of the women's beliefs and values, stigma, experiences with healthcare services in Norway and familiarity with mental health services influence perceptions of help seeking. Some factors represented structural barriers to healthcare seeking in general, while others related to mental healthcare seeking in particular. The significance of each factor varied depending on the women's backgrounds.


Socioeconomic status, educational background, familiarity with health services and experience of mental health can influence immigrant women's perceptions of, and barriers for, help seeking for mental health problems. There are a number of barriers to address at a structural level to improve both the propensity to seek healthcare in general, as well as mental healthcare in particular. Efforts to increase awareness of primary mental healthcare services may also help change the perception that professional help is only appropriate for serious mental health disorders.


Access to care; Barriers; Immigrants; Mental health; Qualitative research; Women’s health

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