Mental health literacy”: a survey of the public’s ability to recognise mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Med J Aust

NHMRC Social Psychiatry Research Unit, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.
The Medical journal of Australia (Impact Factor: 4.09). 03/1997; 166(4):182-6.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To assess the public's recognition of mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of various treatments ("mental health literacy").
A cross-sectional survey, in 1995, with structured interviews using vignettes of a person with either depression or schizophrenia.
A representative national sample of 2031 individuals aged 18-74 years; 1010 participants were questioned about the depression vignette and 1021 about the schizophrenia vignette.
Most of the participants recognised the presence of some sort of mental disorder: 72% for the depression vignette (correctly labelled as depression by 39%) and 84% for the schizophrenia vignette (correctly labelled by 27%). When various people were rated as likely to be helpful or harmful for the person described in the vignette for depression, general practitioners (83%) and counsellors (74%) were most often rated as helpful, with psychiatrists (51%) and psychologists (49%) less so. Corresponding data for the schizophrenia vignette were: counsellors (81%), GPs (74%), psychiatrists (71%) and psychologists (62%). Many standard psychiatric treatments (antidepressants, antipsychotics, electroconvulsive therapy, admission to a psychiatric ward) were more often rated as harmful than helpful, and some nonstandard treatments were rated highly (increased physical or social activity, relaxation and stress management, reading about people with similar problems). Vitamins and special diets were more often rated as helpful than were antidepressants and antipsychotics.
If mental disorders are to be recognised early in the community and appropriate intervention sought, the level of mental health literacy needs to be raised. Further, public understanding of psychiatric treatments can be considerably improved.

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    • "Mental health literacy was a term first coined by Jorm et al. (1997, p. 187) to refer to " knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management or prevention. " Mental health literacy includes the ability to accurately recognize specific disorders, knowledge about how to seek mental health information , attitudes that facilitate problem recognition and help-seeking, as well as knowledge and beliefs about risk factors and causes for mental illness, self-help interventions, and available professional help (Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, 2007; Jorm et al., 1997). Some mental health literacy research has been conducted with youth to date. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mental illnesses are rapidly escalating on university and college campuses. It is well known that post-secondary institutions are not doing enough to address mental health concerns: this represents a significant gap in our attempts to meet the mental health needs of young people. Deficits in mental health knowledge are now proposed as a major contributing factor to both stigma and low service access, but little research has explored this issue. There is also little research to date concerning what young people want to know about mental health and how best to disseminate mental health knowledge. Without such information, knowledge may not be shared in a person-centred, meaningful manner that youth will use. We explored these issues in the present study. First year postsecondary students (N = 271; n = 183 females; n = 85 males; n = 3 other) from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada participated in the online survey. Almost half of the post-secondary youth participants, particularly males, had difficulty recognizing common mental illnesses, such as anxiety, eating disorders, and psychosis. Youth held inaccurate beliefs and stigma, as well as attitudes not in favour of help-seeking. They primarily wanted to know about symptoms of mental illnesses as well as how to cope with stress. Post-secondary students wanted to learn about mental health issues through public presentations, the Internet, and media. The present research suggests the need for an awareness and acknowledgement among policy-makers of first year post-secondary students’ knowledge gaps and youth-appropriate knowledge sharing. Assessing mental health knowledge, what post-secondary students want to know about mental health, and knowledge transfer preferences could aid in the development of a framework to address the significant gap in the mental health needs of post-secondary students.
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    • "Mental health literacy is defined as " knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management, or prevention " (Jorm et al., 1997, p. 182), and includes knowledge and attitudes about appropriate sources of help (Jorm, 2000). Mental health literacy in the general population could lead to more positive and supportive interactions with individuals with mental disorders, which is important as the probability of close contact with an individual with a mental disorder is very high (Jorm, Morgan, & Wright, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study assessed mental health literacy in Irish adolescents (N = 187), and explored participants’ help-giving responses toward hypothetical depressed peers. Participants read five vignettes, each describing an adolescent experiencing a life difficulty; two of the characters met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., DSM-IV) criteria for depression. The majority of participants could not identify depression or potential suicidality, but felt concerned for the depressed characters’ wellbeing. Most participants stated they would provide help if they were the depressed characters’ friends. Correct identification of depression did not influence the type of help offered. A significant proportion of participants did not mention engaging an adult’s assistance, and assessing for suicidality was not mentioned by any participant. Gender differences were found in mental health literacy and the type of responses offered. Education that emphasizes the importance of informing an adult and assessing for suicidal risk is recommended.
    Journal of Adolescent Research 06/2015; 30(4). DOI:10.1177/0743558415569731 · 0.87 Impact Factor
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    • "In 1997, the authors published an analysis concerning the items of the knowledge about the professionals and treatments available component (Jorm, Korten, Rodgers et al., 1997), using a sample of 2031 Australians aged between 18 and 74 years. The factor analysis showed a 3-factor structure, which the authors designated as Medical (including items related to prescribed medication), Psychological (items related to professional help and therapies) and Lifestyle (items related to non-professional help, e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract: Background: The assessment of mental health literacy is a key aspect in the design and implementation of mental health education and awareness programmes, specifically in school settings, given the high prevalence of mental disorders in adolescents and young people and the need for interventions adjusted to specific settings and target groups. Objective: To describe the assessment of the psychometric properties of the Questionnaire for Assessment of Mental Health Literacy (QuALiSMental). Methodology: Administration of the questionnaire to a random and representative sample of 4938 Portuguese adolescents and young people attending schools in the area of coverage of the Regional Directorate of Education - Centre. Results: The QuALiSMental has acceptable levels of reliability and a factor structure which is consistent with the theoretical components of mental health literacy. Conclusion: The questionnaire may be applied both as a screening measure of literacy and as a measure for assessing the impact of interventions on the promotion of mental health among adolescents and young people.
    Revista de Enfermagem Referência 03/2015; DOI:10.12707/RIV14031 · 0.10 Impact Factor
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