Author(s): Mishra N, Nagpal SS, Chadda RK, Sood M
BACKGROUND: Patients with mental health problems in the nonwestern world seek help from a variety of sources, such as the family physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, traditional faith-healers, or alternative medicine practitioners. Understanding the help-seeking behavior is important from the public health perspective.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two hundred new patients visiting a psychiatric outpatient service at a tertiary care hospital were interviewed on a semi-structured questionnaire for various services contacted by them for their mental health problems.
RESULTS: Psychiatrists were the first choice in 45% of the cases followed by nonpsychiatric physicians and religious faith healers. Important reasons to seek help from different sources included easy accessibility, belief in the system, or particular healer and good reputation. Mean duration of treatment varied from 2.35 months with the alternative system practitioners to 16.63 months with the psychiatrists. The mean expenditure per visit to a service was highest for the nonpsychiatric physician and lowest for alternative system practitioners.
CONCLUSION: Patients with mental health problems seek help from psychiatrists, nonpsychiatric physicians, faith healers, alternative system practitioners, and traditional faith healers for multiple reasons. It is important to sensitize various nonpsychiatric physicians with early identification and optimum management of mental disorders.Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics