Somali male refugees: Perceptions of depression and help-seeking

Author(s): Sophie RAE


Content & Focus: The UK Somali community has been identified as a cultural group who rarely access psychological services, despite high rates of mental health diagnoses such as depression. In particular, Somali men are said to be at increased risk of suicide and frequently present in tertiary care. The purpose of the current study was to explore how Somali male refugees in the UK understand and perceive the Western concept of depression, alongside their views on coping and professional help in the UK.

Method: A constructivist grounded theory approach involved the use of twelve Somali male refugees in the community. They were interviewed with the aid of a vignette across three focus groups, with eight who participated in subsequent semi-structured interviews.

Findings: ‘Depression ’ appeared to be a result of the difficulties associated with migration, portrayed as an overall ‘sense of disconnection’. The ‘health’ of the community appeared to link to the ‘health’ of the individual, highlighting the collectivist appraisals of self-worth. Help-seeking from Western professionals was portrayed as rare. Health professionals were conceptualised as lacking awareness of the needs of the Somali community in relation to their difficulties.

Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of taking into account social and contextual factors making decisions about depression as a diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

Tags: Somalia, United Kingdom, Depression, Suicidality, Access to mental health care

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