Perceived barriers to psychiatric help-seeking in South Korea by age groups: text mining analyses of social media big data

Hwo Yeon Seo, Gil Young Song, Jee Won Ku, Hye Yoon Park, Woojae Myung, Hee Jung Kim, Chang Hyeon Baek, Nami Lee, Jee Hoon Sohn, Hee Jeong Yoo, Jee Eun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The psychiatric treatment gap is substantial in Korea, implying barriers in seeking help. Objectives: This study aims to explore barriers of seeing psychiatrists, expressed on the internet by age groups. Methods: A corpus of data was garnered extensively from internet communities, blogs and social network services from 1 January 2016 to 31 July 2019. Among the texts collected, texts containing words linked to psychiatry were selected. Then the corpus was dismantled into words by using natural language processing. Words linked to barriers to seeking help were identified and classified. Then the words from web communities that we were able to identify the age groups were additionally organized by age groups. Results: 97,730,360 articles were identified and 6,097,369 were included in the analysis. Words implying the barriers were selected and classified into four groups of structural discrimination, public prejudice, low accessibility, and adverse drug effects. Structural discrimination was the greatest barrier occupying 34%, followed by public prejudice (27.8%), adverse drug effects (18.6%), and cost/low accessibility (16.1%). In the analysis by age groups, structural discrimination caused teenagers (51%), job seekers (64%) and mothers with children (43%) the most concern. In contrast, the public prejudice (49%) was the greatest barriers in the senior group. Conclusions: Although structural discrimination may most contribute to barriers to visiting psychiatrists in Korea, variation by generations may exist. Along with the general attempt to tackle the discrimination, customized approach might be needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number332
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Barrier
  • Discrimination
  • Mental health
  • Service
  • South Korea
  • Stigma


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