Knowledge about mental illness increases likelihood of seeking help

June 1, 2011, American Psychiatric Association

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

Parental mental illness: How are children and adults affected?

May 13, 2011
A University of Western Sydney study will investigate the experiences of adults whose parents suffered mental illness during their childhood.

Recommended for you

Regular problem solving does not protect against mental decline

December 10, 2018
The well known 'use it or lose it' claim has been widely accepted by healthcare professionals, but researchers in the Christmas issue of The BMJ find that regularly doing problem solving activities throughout your lifetime ...

Early career choices appear to influence personality, study finds

December 10, 2018
In the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, 16-year-old students in middle-track schools decide whether to stay in school to pursue an academic career or enroll in a vocational training program. A new study offers evidence ...

When scientists push people to their tipping point

December 10, 2018
You probably overestimate just how far someone can push you before you reach your tipping point, new research suggests.

Internet therapy apps reduce depression symptoms, study finds

December 7, 2018
In a sweeping new study, Indiana University psychologists have found that a series of self-guided, internet-based therapy platforms effectively reduce depression.

Gender bias sways how we perceive competence in faces

December 7, 2018
Faces that are seen as competent are also perceived as more masculine, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia

December 7, 2018
Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and ...

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.