Understanding Help-Seeking Among Depressed Men

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Abstract

Consistently, study findings show that, compared with women, men tend to seek less help for diverse health problems. Addis and Mahalik (2003) have proposed a conceptual framework that considers the influence of gender socialization and five key social-psychological processes to better understand men's help-seeking behaviors in a variety of contexts. The present qualitative study investigated the correspondence between this framework and the self-reported help-seeking experiences of depressed men. Men with depression were interviewed about their help-seeking experiences, with particular reference to the five social-psychological processes proposed by Addis and Mahalik (2003): (1) normativeness of their depression, (2) centrality of depression to their identity, (3) available opportunities to reciprocate received help, (4) how others react when or if they seek help, and (5) perception of loss of control if help is sought. Findings revealed considerable correspondence between these five social psychological processes and the experiences of men who had sought help for their depression. Three processes (normativeness of depression, the centrality of depression, and the ability to maintain a sense of control) were general, whereby they were represented in all of the men's discourses of their experiences. Two other processes (reciprocity, others' reactions to help-seeking) were typical, in that more than half the men had representative descriptions in self-reports of their actual experiences. These findings suggest that Addis and Mahalik's (2003) proposed framework offers a useful structure for developing a better understanding of help-seeking among depressed men.

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