Original Research

Perceptions and attitudes of black men in a rural district of South Africa towards depression and its treatment

Hlabje C. Masemola, Saiendhra V. Moodley, Joyce Shirinde
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 3| a5557 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5557 | © 2022 Hlabje C. Masemola, Saiendhra V. Moodley, Joyce Shirinde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2022 | Published: 28 July 2022

About the author(s)

Hlabje C. Masemola, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Saiendhra V. Moodley, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Joyce Shirinde, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Depression is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease, impacting social life, family life and occupational functioning if left untreated. Despite its high prevalence and morbidity, the evidence suggests that men are hesitant to seek help, with a large percentage remaining undiagnosed. This study aimed to determine the attitudes and perceptions related to depression and its treatment amongst black men in a rural district of South Africa.

Methods: The design used was an exploratory descriptive qualitative design. Participants were selected by purposive sampling. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted, which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were subsequently analysed thematically to develop themes and subthemes.

Results: Participants described depression as a psychological problem associated with lack of sleep, loneliness, feeling unwanted, increased stress, deep sadness, weight loss, forgetfulness, crying over small things and lack of concentration. Collectively, the interviews with participants showed a good understanding of the psychosocial determinants of depression but exposed a lack of awareness of its biological determinants. A large proportion (n = 13; 68.4%) of participants reported not having knowledge of available services in their area for people seeking treatment for depression. Barriers to help-seeking behaviours were fear of social stigma, fear of expressing their feelings, gender norms and stereotypes and lack of trust in others.

Conclusion: Interventions such as support groups and mental health awareness programmes to counteract personal perceptions may help to improve and expand the effectiveness of depression treatment. The results highlight the future need to raise awareness of depressive symptoms and expand health outreach programmes


Keywords

depression; perceptions; attitudes; mental health; help-seeking; treatment; South Africa

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