Purpose: Depression literacy refers to the ability to recognize depression and make informed decisions about its treatment. To date, relatively little research has been done to examine depression literacy in the Western Pacific region. Given the pervasiveness of depression and the need to enhance mental health care in this region, it is important to gain a better understanding of depression literacy and health-seeking behaviors in this part of the world.
Methods: This mixed-methods study utilized a convergent parallel design to examine depression literacy and the associated health-seeking attitudes among urban adults from three countries—Cambodia, Philippines, and Fiji. A total of 455 adults completed a quantitative survey on depression knowledge, attitudes, and professional help seeking. Separately, 56 interviewees from 6 focus groups provided qualitative data on their impression and knowledge of depression and mental illness within the context of their local communities.
Results: Overall, results showed that depression knowledge was comparatively lower in this region. Controlling for differences across countries, higher knowledge was significantly associated with more positive attitudes towards mental illness (B = − 0.28, p = 0.025) and professional help seeking (B = 0.20, p < 0.001). Financial stability, such as employment, was also a salient factor for help seeking.
Conclusions: This study was the first to provide a baseline understanding on depression literacy and highlights the need to increase public knowledge on depression in the Western Pacific. Culturally congruent recommendations on enhancing depression literacy in this region, such as anti-stigma campaigns, use of financial incentives, and family-based approach in health education, are discussed.