Help seeking behaviour of psychiatric patients before seeking care at a mental hospital

Int J Soc Psychiatry. Winter 2001;47(4):71-8. doi: 10.1177/002076400104700406.


Background: A wide range of professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, general physicians, faith-healers and religious healers cater to the needs of mentally ill patients. Psychiatric facilities are available at general hospitals, office based practice and mental hospitals. Psychiatrists are preferred the least due to stigma. The present work reports on treatment options used by a group of psychiatric patients before visiting a mental hospital.

Aim: To study the help seeking behaviour of patients visiting a mental hospital.

Method: Patients attending psychiatric outpatient service at a mental hospital were asked specifically about various treatment facilities utilized by them before coming to the hospital and the reasons thereof.

Results: A wide range of services was used by the subjects varying from professional care to faith healers. Trust, easy availability and accessibility, recommendations by the significant others and belief in supernatural causation of illness were the important reasons for choosing a particular facility. Thus sociocultural factors appeared to influence the help seeking behaviour.

Conclusion: A substantial number of patients suffering from severe mental disorders seek non-professional care. There is a need of studies in community to assess the help seeking behaviour of psychiatric patients and factors associated with it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Demography
  • Faith Healing / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors