Addressing Stigma and Promoting Help-Seeking Among African Nova Scotian Youth Experiencing Psychosis and Other Mental Health Problems Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Objectives The purpose of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of perceptions of mental illnesses (especially psychosis), help-seeking, barriers to help-seeking, and opportunities to facilitate help-seeking in the African Nova Scotian Community. Methods A qualitative interpretive narrative approach, using the focus group method, was employed to engage African Nova Scotians in discussions on their perceptions and beliefs about mental illnesses and help-seeking in their communities. Youth in Early Intervention services, their caregivers, youth in the community, their caregivers, community leaders, and health service providers, were recruited from four locations in the Halifax Regional Municipality. A total of 75 individuals (37 female, 38 male) participated in the study. Narrative emplotment was used to analyse data from focus groups. Results Findings from focus groups were categorized based on four areas of discussion: (a) perceptions about psychosis and other mental illnesses among youth, caregivers, service providers and community leaders (b) beliefs about help-seeking among youth, caregivers, services providers and community leaders; (c) barriers and facilitators to seeking help for mental illnesses; and (d) the content and format of educational resources to educate and support youth, families and communities. Conclusions Stigma surrounding mental illnesses in the community, lack of knowledge of illness and available services, concerns regarding negative involvement with police, or dismissal of difficulties by health care providers represent significant barriers to help-seeking in this community. Additionally, barriers include a lack of trust in health care services and a dearth of African Nova Scotian service providers. Bolstering capacity of community organizations to support and educate individuals around illness as well as fostering collaboration between health services and community organizations could reduce barriers to care. Future research should focus on examining ways to engage African Nova Scotians in collaboration with existing community organizations.

authors

publication date

  • September 13, 2022