More People Willing to Disclose Mental Health Problems

mental health problemsA survey, led by Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, found that people are more willing to disclose having a mental health problem and receive treatment.[1] Researchers found that improved knowledge and beliefs about mental health problems within the community, due in part to educational campaigns, have led to this willingness.1 Could the mental health stigma be deteriorating?

“This greater awareness and changing attitudes towards mental health problems most likely fuesl the increase in the willingness to discuss mental health problems,” said lead researcher Dr. Nicola Reavley from the Melbourne School of Population and global Health.1

Results from the national survey of mental health literacy, which focuses on what people know and believe about mental health problems like depression and schizophrenia, were compared to the results of similar surveys completed in 1995.1

“The results of the study revealed that the numbers of those disclosing experiences of depression and early schizophrenia, and of having received professional help for depression, have increased since 1995,” said Reavley. “We know that people are better at recognizing the symptoms of depression than they used to be. It is also possible that there is less stigma around disclosure, although we still have a lot of work to do in that area.”1

In 1995, 45 percent of respondents said that they knew someone like the person given in the case description, while 71 percent said the same in 2011.1 The study also showed that women were more likely than men to disclose experiencing depression.1

Overall, researchers hope that their findings may contribute to the design of public education and anti-stigma interventions in the future.1

“Such policies could help those who need it to seek early treatment,” wrote researchers. “Such educational campaigns could improve the recognition of the signs and symptoms of mental disorders, as well as increase the public’s knowledge of appropriate treatment. At the same time, a campaign could hopefully minimize stigma as a barrier to seeking professional help.”1

Reavley added, “This new information helps us to understand how things can change in the population and the impact of campaigns to reduce the stigma of mental health problems.”1

One in every four Americans suffer from a mental disorder, with depression being the most common condition.1 In fact, 14.8 million American adults suffer from major depressive disorder.1 Many do not like to discuss mental health issues, and only seek treatment when it gets out of hand; however, this is changing.1 Hopefully, this positive change will progress with the continued fight against the stigma of mental illness.1

[1] Wood, J. (2014). Survey Finds More People Willing to Disclose Mental Health Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/09/survey-finds-more-people-willing-to-disclose-mental-health-problems/66848.html

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