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Purpose: A recent epidemiological survey found a lifetime prevalence of depression in 6% of the Korean population. Regardless of type of disorder, only 11.4% sought mental health services in the past year prior to the survey. Efforts to facilitate professional help-seeking for depression requires an examination of the beliefs people have toward methods they may utilize to address the symptoms. This is especially important in the Korean context where people frequently employ a range of methods in a complex manner to alleviate various symptoms, which often interferes with effective intervention for the problem under attention. The present study investigates the general belief systems about the helpfulness of various ways to address depressive symptoms among Korean adults. It also examines the association between experiencing depression and receiving treatment and beliefs about the helpfulness of different methods.

Method: A probability sample of 1,700 adults between the ages 18 and 75 were recruited from Seoul metropolitan area for the study. A household survey was conducted by trained interviewers during a 6-week period in early 2009. Current depressive symptoms were measured by BSI-18, and history of seeking 'counselors' and/or 'doctors' for symptoms described based on the ICD-10 criteria for depression was asked. Respondents were asked to indicate the usefulness or harmfulness of a range of modern and cultural methods to address symptoms described in the vignette of a person suffering from early stage of depression.

Results: More than 25% of all respondents were categorized as having had depressive symptoms but less than 2% have ever sought professional help for depression. The comparison between three groups (had sought help, had a history of depression but had not sought help, no history of depression) indicated that those who had sought help rated medical treatment as helpful, and those who had not sought help rated family and friends as helpful. The latter group also preferred not receiving formal help for depression such as waiting to get better, finding ways to deal with it by oneself or ways to reduce stress by oneself.

Implications: Despite high percentage of lifetime and current depressive symptoms, Koreans are generally reluctant to seek formal or professional help. The group who have experienced depression but had not sought help preferred informal help or dealing it alone. It may be assumed that Koreans are not only are uncomfortable with formal help but may not be aware of the availability of such help. Ways to make various help seeking interventions more accessible should be explored. Awareness of public belief systems toward different interventions will be important in dealing with the expectations of individual person in need of help as well as in designing public education programs or mental health services of diverse modalities.

How do working women of the Puli[1] area regard the economic contribution they make to their families? How closely is their fortune bound up with that of the larger community, and how has the devastation wrought by the '921 earthquake' of 1999 and the current economic crisis affected the region's middle-aged working women? This research investigates the extent to which the employment opportunities of Puli's female workforce have been directly or indirectly affected by their life experience and the economic health of the larger community.

 

Interviews were conducted with middle-aged working-class female workers of the Puli area in order to gain insight into their socioeconomic standing in the home and community. A range of factors at play in the Puli area, including economic, social, and cultural structures, have been analysed in order to evaluate the role(s) these women play in their community.

 

It was found that not only are these working women subject to the pressures inherent to their multiple roles based on gender, home, and employment; with respect to employability, these women - although well suited to the local job market and work conditions - are facing gradually diminishing employment opportunities due to the economic crisis and outside competition such as recent female immigrants and work-study students at local universities. With these factors acting in combination with the difficulties linked to ageing, it is not hard to see that their working conditions are becoming increasingly unsatisfactory. Amid such a predicament, how can such working-class women increase their self‑awareness and make choices that will help them improve their lives?



[1] Puli Township, in central Taiwan, was the area hit hardest by the 1999 earthquake. The town's industry relies mostly on agriculture and tourism and hosts the state university where the author currently teaches.

Purpose: The ability to recognize mental health symptoms and beliefs about the effectiveness of various interventions have a significant impact on help-seeking behavior and mental health outcome. This study investigated the level of correct identification of depressive symptoms in the Korean public and their beliefs about the effectiveness of a range of methods to address symptoms.

 

Methods: A household survey was conducted on a probability sample of 1,700 adults between 18 and 75 years of age in early 2009. The respondents were asked to determine the nature of the problem described in the vignette of a person suffering from depressive symptoms, and to indicate usefulness or harmfulness of a range of modern and cultural problem-solving choices given.

 

Results: About 33% of the respondents identified correctly depressive symptoms. The ANCOVA showed that the rate was significantly higher in females than in males, and in 18-24 age group than other groups, controlling for educational level and depressive symptoms (X2=31.471***, df=7). The MANCOVA revealed that respondents believed primary support and talking to lay/professionals to be the most effective, cutting down stress and recharging energy moderately effective, and seeking medical professionals the least effective; methods focusing only on curing symptoms were believed to be harmful (Pillai's trace=.053***, Wilks' lambda.=948***, Hotelling's trace=.055***, Roy's largest root=.039***). Among the five age groups, the older three groups favored primary support and medical services than two younger groups (p<.001, p<.001), and the group of age 60 and over favored cutting down stress and recharging energy (p<.001); there was no significant difference between females and males in their beliefs about effectiveness of various methods (p>.05).

 

Implications: The current universal strategies for mental health prevention need to be further developed to fit specific gender and age groups. The public's belief on the effectiveness of talking to lay/professionals shed light on the interest of the general public in obtaining information, consultation, and/or services that are psychosocial in nature. This calls for an attention of the Korean mental health authorities on a nationwide initiative to diversify mental health resources as well as to build a mechanism through which individuals seeking out various methods converge into these resources to further mental health outcome in the Korean population.