Seeking Help for Depression: Applying the Health Belief Model to Illness Narratives

Jessica Castonguay, Christine R. Filer, Margaret J. Pitts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Many individuals with depression experience difficulty seeking help. To better understand the help-seeking process, we analyzed narratives produced during interviews with individuals who sought treatment. We examined these narratives within the framework of the health belief model and then engaged in emergent, thematic coding within each of the categories. Our findings suggest that, for depressed individuals, one’s uncertainty regarding the condition and treatment drives each element of the health belief model. The main barrier preventing help-seeking was fear of the unknown treatment process. Interpersonal cues to action served to reduce uncertainty by providing guidance and confirmation that help was needed. Interventions should target friends and family of depressed individuals and provide information regarding the treatment process to effectively reduce uncertainty and drive help-seeking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-303
Number of pages15
JournalSouthern Communication Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 19 2016


  • Depression
  • health
  • health belief model
  • help-seeking
  • illness narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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