Mothers’ Perceptions of Help-Seeking for Depression in Head Start: A Thematic, Discourse Analysis by Language Group

  • Abigail Palmer MolinaEmail author
  • Lawrence A. Palinkas
  • William Monro
  • Ferol E. Mennen
Original Paper


Maternal depression poses a threat to the well-being of poor minority mothers and their young children, but significant disparities remain in the access and utilization of treatment among this population in the United States. Providing group treatment in early childhood education settings like Head Start may be an effective way to address this public health concern. However, intervention developers would benefit from understanding potential barriers and facilitators to engagement with this population, particularly those related to cultural and linguistic differences. Focus groups were conducted to explore perceptions of help-seeking for depression among English and Spanish-speaking Head Start mothers as part of a larger effectiveness study. Thematic and discourse analysis strategies were used to examine similarities and differences across English and Spanish language groups. Results revealed similar and divergent concerns about broader environmental stressors and striking differences in the processes of group formation. Findings demonstrate the importance of addressing structural factors, developing flexible interventions, and tailoring interventions for both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking groups.


Depression Help-seeking Low-income Hispanic/Latino Mothers Qualitative methods 


Author Contributions

All authors certify responsibility.


This work was supported by the Administration of Children and Families [grant number 90YR0074-01-00] awarded to Ferol E. Mennen, Ph.D.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (University of Southern California University Park Institutional Review Board, UP-14-00329) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkLos AngelesUSA

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