Correlates of self-reported history of mental health help-seeking: a cross-sectional study among individuals with symptoms of a mental or substance use disorder initiating care for HIV in Cameroon

Lindsey M. Filiatreau, Peter Vanes Ebasone, Anastase Dzudie, Rogers Ajeh, Brian Pence, Milton Wainberg, Denis Nash, Marcel Yotebieng, Kathryn Anastos, Eric Pefura-Yone, Denis Nsame, Angela M. Parcesepe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Mental health and substance use disorders (MSDs) increase the risk of poor human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care outcomes among people living with HIV (PLWH). Receipt of mental health care may improve these adverse outcomes. We aimed to identify correlates of prior mental health help-seeking among PLWH with symptoms of an MSD in Cameroon. Methods: We characterize prior mental health help-seeking from formal (mental health specialist/general medical provider) and informal (traditional healer/religious leader) sources among 161 people with symptoms of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores> 9), anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder-7 scores> 9), probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 scores> 30), or possible alcohol use disorder (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scores≥16) who were newly entering HIV care at three healthcare facilities in Cameroon between June 2019 and March 2020. Help-seeking was defined as ever speaking to a formal or informal source about emotional problems, sadness, or the way they were feeling or behaving. We estimated the association between sociodemographic and psychosocial measures and lifetime mental health help-seeking from each type of source using log-binomial regression. Results: Overall, 55.3% of 161 PLWH with MSD symptoms reported prior mental health help-seeking, with 24.2% and 46.0% seeking help from formal and informal sources, respectively. Religious leaders were the most common source of help (40.4%), followed by general medical professionals (22.4%), traditional healers (16.8%), and mental health specialists (7.4%). Individuals with higher depressive, anxiety, and trauma symptom severity scores were more likely to have sought help than those with lower scores. Individuals with possible alcohol use disorder were the least likely to have sought help. Prior help-seeking was more common among those reporting a higher number of lifetime traumatic events (prevalence ratio [PR]: 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01, 1.11) and those with a history of emotional intimate partner violence (PR: 1.34; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.80). Conclusions: Prior mental health help-seeking was associated with psychosocial stressors. Help-seeking from informal networks was more common than formal help-seeking. Training in the provision of evidence-based mental health support for informal networks could improve access to mental health care for PLWH with MSDs in Cameroon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number293
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Alcohol use
  • Cameroon
  • HIV
  • Help-seeking
  • Mental health
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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