Knowledge about mental illness increases likelihood of seeking help

June 1, 2011

Increased knowledge about mental illness, attitudes of tolerance toward people with mental illness, and support for providing them with care in the community lead to an increased likelihood of individuals seeking help, according to research appearing in the June issue of the American Psychiatric Association’s journal Psychiatric Services.

The question of what makes people willing to seek mental health care is an important area for research. Many people who need and could benefit from treatment do not seek it, which may result in unnecessary suffering for them and their families as well as high social and financial costs. Researchers looked at data from a United Kingdom Department of Health survey of 1,751 adults in England. Survey participants were asked a series of questions relating to knowledge and attitudes about mental health and contact with people with mental illness. The researchers were particularly interested in the group who responded that they would seek care if they had a mental health problem.

Participants who said that they would seek treatment if they needed it were also those who expressed stronger attitudes of toward people with mental illness and stronger support for providing care in the community (rather than in institutions). These participants, who tended to be older than those who were less willing to seek care, also had better knowledge about mental illness and available treatments. Women were more likely than men to be willing to seek help and to disclose a mental illness to friends and family.

In addition, past or present contact with individuals with mental illness was associated with greater knowledge and greater tolerance and support for community care but not with greater willingness to seek help or to disclose a mental illness to others. of prejudice and exclusion were associated with poorer knowledge and less contact with individuals with mental illness.

of mental illness and treatments was the strongest predictor of both help-seeking and disclosure, a finding that underlines the role of literacy in influencing reactions to developing a ,” the researchers concluded. The study authors, affiliated with King’s College in London and led by Nicolas Rusch, M.D., suggest that future efforts to increase care-seeking should include a focus on improving health literacy.

Explore further: Parental mental illness: How are children and adults affected?

Related Stories

Recommended for you

It's true—the sound of nature helps us relax

March 30, 2017

The gentle burbling of a brook, or the sound of the wind in the trees can physically change our mind and bodily systems, helping us to relax. New research explains how, for the first time.

Tests can quantify automatic empathy and moral intuitions

March 30, 2017

When people scan the latest political headlines or watch a video from a war-ravaged land, they tend to feel snap ethical or moral responses first and reason through them later. Now a team of psychologists have developed news ...

Blood test unlocks new frontier in treating depression

March 29, 2017

Doctors for the first time can determine which medication is more likely to help a patient overcome depression, according to research that pushes the medical field beyond what has essentially been a guessing game of prescribing ...

Study finds natural chemical helps brain adapt to stress

March 29, 2017

A natural signaling molecule that activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain plays a critical role in stress-resilience—the ability to adapt to repeated and acute exposures to traumatic stress, according to researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.