Perceived barriers to care in St. Louis (USA) and Christchurch (NZ): Reasons for not seeking professional help for psychological distress
This paper examines perceived barriers to mental health care reported in two very similar community surveys in two cities that are not only on opposite sides of the world but that differ substantially in their health care systems, their size, and their mix of ethnic groups, namely, St. Louis in the United States and Christchurch in New Zealand. Respondents were asked about mental health care ever received, any failure to seek care when required, and symptoms of 14 psychiatric disorders according to DSM-III. The frequency with which respondents reported not seeking care and the popularity of specific reasons for not seeking care were almost identical in the two sites. A common reason offered for not seeking care was doubt about the need for professional help; this appeared to be particularly common for people with alcohol disorder. Respondents who said that they had failed to seek care when needed gave reasons that were mainly attitudinal, such as believing they should be strong enough to cope without professional help. Structural characteristics of services such as cost, times open, and travel distance were given less often. Sociodemographic factors had small or negligible effect on care seeking.
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