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Pattern of Help Seeking Behavior for Common Mental Disorders among Urban Residents in Southwest Ethiopia

Background: Worldwide evidences showed that the magnitude of mental health such as common mental disorders is very high. It is also indicated that only a small proportion of people with common mental disorders seek help from different sources. Assessing pattern of help seeking behavior among people with common mental disorders is crucial in order to provide appropriate mental health service. Therefore, this study assessed the pattern of help seeking behavior for common mental disorders among urban residents.

Methodology: Community based cross sectional study was conducted in March, 2015 in Jimma town using interviewer administered structured questionnaire. A total of 745 residents were selected using multi stage probability sampling technique. Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ) was used to determine the prevalence of common mental disorders. The mental help seeking behaviors was assessed using Actual Help Seeking Questionnaire (AHSQ). Data was analyzed with SPSS version 20. Simple and multiple logistic regression analysis were done to identify associated factors. Strength of association of the variables was determined using odds ratio and 95% confidence level.

Results: Among residents 245 (33.6%) had Common Mental Disorders (CMD). From residents with CMD, 121 (49.4%) of them had sought help for their problems. The most frequently visited source of help was the informal help sources, 306 (82.7%). Being 48 year old and above, female gender, marred, divorced/separated and widowed in marital status, not using khat and alcohol during the past one month, cigarette smoking and having chronic physical illness were significantly associated with increased help seeking behavior for common mental disorders among residents.

Conclusion: Only half of the residents sought help for common mental disorders and the sources of help for 83% of the residents were the informal help sources. Future intervention is needed targeting factors negatively affecting help seeking behavior and promoting use of formal help sources is essential for improved mental health of residents


Habtamu Kerebih, Mubarek Abera, Matiwos Soboka

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