3 years ago

Help‐seeking experiences of older adults with a diagnosis of moderate depression

Meg Polacsek, Gayelene H. Boardman, Terence V. McCann


Depression is the most prevalent mental illness among older adults. However, help‐seeking by older adults is frequently delayed, resulting in longer duration of untreated symptoms, poorer health outcomes, and consequent higher healthcare use. Early help‐seeking and access to appropriate support benefits individuals, while providing better outcomes from health systems constrained by limited resources. The aim of this study, which is abstracted from a larger study, was to identify the factors that inhibited and enabled formal help‐seeking in older adults with a diagnosis of moderate depression. Corbin and Strauss’ approach to grounded theory informed data collection and analysis. Two themes and related subthemes concerning help‐seeking barriers and facilitators were abstracted from the data. Help‐seeking barriers were attributable to stigma, self‐motivation, accessing formal support, ageism, and difficulty obtaining an initial diagnosis. Help‐seeking facilitators were accepting personal responsibility, mental health literacy, therapeutic alliances, and informal support. Findings have implications for the role of mental health nurses, who are well‐placed to provide support to community‐based older adults with depression. More broadly, mental health nurses and other clinicians should seek to reduce help‐seeking barriers and implement ways to facilitate help‐seeking in this cohort.

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