Ethnicity and mental health encounters in primary care: help-seeking and help-giving for perinatal depression among Black Caribbean women in the UK.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Perinatal depression among Black Caribbean women in the UK remains an intriguingly under-researched topic. Despite high levels of known psychosocial risks, Black Caribbeans remain relatively invisible among those seeking/receiving help for depression during and after pregnancy. In-depth interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of twelve Black Caribbean women selected from a larger sample (n=101) to examine prevalence and psychosocial risks for perinatal depression among this ethnic group. The study also sought to explore women's models of help-seeking. During analysis, the context in which help-seeking/giving is mediated emerged as a key issue. We explore the nature of these encounters thereby opening up the possibility of finding common ground between service users and providers for enabling women to receive the care and support they need. Whether or not women configure depressive feelings as 'symptoms' requiring external validation and intervention is a reflection both of the social embeddedness of those individuals and of how 'help-givers' perceive them and their particular needs. We suggest that the ways in which help-seeking/giving are commonly conceptualised might offer at least a partial explanation for apparently low levels of diagnosed perinatal depression among Black Caribbean women. Popular approaches to health seeking behaviours within health promotion and practice focus on individuals as the fulcrum for change, tending to overlook their embeddedness within 'reflexive communities'. This might serve to reinforce the invisibility of Black Caribbean women both in mainstream mental health services and associated research. Alternative approaches may be required to achieve government targets to reduce inequalities in access, care, and treatment and to deliver more responsive and culturally-appropriate mental health services.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-111
Number of pages18
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010