Actions taken by young people to deal with mental disorders: findings from an Australian national survey of youth
ABSTRACT The study examined actions taken by young people to deal with mental disorders and the factors associated with help-seeking and self-help behaviours.
Participants in a 2006 national survey of Australian youth (aged 12-25 years) were contacted 2 years later and participated in telephone interviews based on a vignette of one of the following disorders: depression, depression with alcohol misuse, social phobia and psychosis. Personal experiences of these disorders and subsequent self-help and help-seeking behaviours were examined.
Of the 2005 participants interviewed, 275 (14%) reported experiencing a mental disorder since January 2007, most commonly depression. The most frequent sources of help were family (77%) and close friends (73%). General practitioners (GPs) were consulted by 53% of respondents. The most frequent self-help behaviours were physical activity (70%) and getting up early and out in the sunlight (46%). Beliefs about the helpfulness of interventions at baseline were compared with actual use in the following 2 years. Interventions ranked higher for beliefs about helpfulness than actual use mainly included consulting health professionals and cutting down on substance use. Interventions ranked higher for actual use than beliefs typically included lifestyle interventions but also included consulting GPs.
Young people with mental health problems are more likely to seek help from close friends and family and to use self-help interventions than to access professional help, although over half of survey respondents had visited a GP. Help seeking tended to be better predicted by intentions to seek help than by beliefs about the helpfulness of interventions.
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ABSTRACT: With approximately 50% of young people aged 18-24 in tertiary education, these are potential settings for programmes to improve mental health literacy. A survey was carried out with students and staff of a tertiary education institution to investigate psychological distress, actions to deal with mental health problems and first-aid behaviours. Telephone interviews were carried out with 774 students of an Australian metropolitan university (with 422 staff as a comparison group). They answered questions relating to psychological distress, actions to deal with mental health problems and first-aid behaviours. Students were more likely to be psychologically distressed than staff (21% vs. 13%) and 27% reported experiencing a problem similar to that described in a depression vignette. The most common actions taken were talking to a close friend, physical activity and talking to close family. Over 72% of students with a problem had sought professional help, most often from a general practitioner or counsellor. Only 10% reported seeking help from a student counsellor. Helpful first-aid behaviours were common and were seen in over 90% of students who had a family member or close friend with a similar problem. There is a need for further investigation of levels and factors associated with psychological distress in higher education students along with an exploration of barriers to and enablers of use of student counselling services. High levels of help seeking from friends and first-aid behaviours provided point to the need for effective peer-to-peer education.Early Intervention in Psychiatry 09/2011; 6(2):159-65. DOI:10.1111/j.1751-7893.2011.00294.x · 1.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to carry out a national survey in order to assess young people's recognition and beliefs about treatment for depression, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia/psychosis. In 2011, telephone interviews were carried out with 3021 Australians aged between 15 and 25 years. Participants were presented with a case vignette describing either depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, depression with alcohol misuse, psychosis/schizophrenia, social phobia or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Questions were asked about what was wrong with the person, help-seeking intentions and the likely helpfulness of a broad range of interventions. Rates of recognition of depression were relatively high, with almost 75% of respondents using the correct label. Rates of recognition for the psychosis (schizophrenia) and PTSD vignettes were similar, with around one third of respondents using the correct labels. Only 3% of respondents were able to correctly label social phobia. Intentions to seek help were highest for depression with suicidal thoughts and lowest for social phobia, with family members nominated the most likely sources of help across all vignettes. Most young people believe in the importance of seeking professional help and they have good recognition of depression. However, there is still potential for young people's mental health literacy to improve in the areas of recognition and treatment beliefs for all the mental disorders covered in this survey, particularly social phobia which has very low recognition rates and a lower perceived need for treatment.Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 09/2011; 45(10):890-8. DOI:10.3109/00048674.2011.614215 · 3.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to assess Australian young people's awareness of mental health services available for their age group. Of particular interest was awareness of headspace, which was created in 2006 to provide youth-oriented mental health services, and has expanded to 30 centres nationally in 5 years. In 2011, a telephone interview was conducted with a national sample of 3021 Australians aged between 15 and 25 years. Participants were asked questions about awareness of mental health organizations, where they would seek help for themselves and how they would assist a peer with a mental health problem. There were very low frequencies of spontaneous mentions of headspace as a mental health organization, or as a service where respondents would seek help for themselves or refer a peer to. However, when prompted, about half of respondents recognized headspace as a mental health organization. Living within a headspace service area predicted better recognition of headspace. However, past-year psychological distress was unrelated to recognition of headspace as a mental health organization. In order to reach them more effectively, young people need to be aware of youth-oriented services that are available to them and their peers. Awareness campaigns need to be targeted to the subgroups of young people who have the greatest need for headspace services, namely those with recent mental health problems.Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 01/2012; 46(1):28-34. DOI:10.1177/0004867411427808 · 3.77 Impact Factor