“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

Author(s): Melanie L. STRAITON, Heloise Marie L. LEDESMA, Tam T. DONNELLY




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.


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

Tags: Norway, Philippines, Women, Access to mental health care, mental health services

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s