Objectives: To describe perceptions of immigrant Hispanic women experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) and to identify barriers to seeking mental health services.
Design: Qualitative descriptive.
Setting: Community health clinic.
Participants: Twenty immigrant Hispanic women scoring positive for symptoms of PPD receiving health care at a community health clinic who declined mental health services participated in audiotaped interviews held in their homes.
Methods: Following Institutional Review Board approval and informed consent, interviews were conducted with study participants. Transcribed data were analyzed as appropriate for qualitative inquiry.
Results: Some of the women did not recognize and/or denied their symptoms attributing their sadness to financial concerns, family relationships, and/or work stressors. Study participants articulately described their symptoms and identified personal barriers including beliefs about emotional health, the perceived stigma of mental illness, hesitancy to seek treatment for symptoms of PPD, and cultural beliefs about motherhood and the role of women. Social barriers included inadequate social support, immigration status, and limited English proficiency. Health care delivery barriers included financial and time constraints and lack of child care and transportation.
Conclusion: Limited social networks and barriers to health care should be addressed to foster positive outcomes. Mental health services should be embedded with primary health care or obstetric care clinics to facilitate access. Personal and professional support can make a significant contribution to the reduction of symptoms of PPD.