Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Attitudes Toward Mental Health Help Seeking as Predictors of Future Help-Seeking Behavior and Use of Mental Health Treatments

The study examined the association of attitudes toward mental health help seeking and beliefs about the effectiveness of treatments with future help-seeking behavior and use of specific services in the general population.

Data on attitudes and beliefs at baseline were taken from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), a general population survey conducted in 1990-1992. Help seeking from various providers and use of psychiatric medications and counseling or therapy were examined in the NCS follow-up, in which 5,001 of the original NCS participants were reinterviewed in 2001-2003.

Willingness to seek professional help for a serious emotional problem and feeling comfortable talking about personal problems with professionals were significantly associated with future help seeking and treatment use. One-third (33.4%) of participants who stated at baseline that they would "definitely go" to a professional if they had a serious emotional problem sought future help, compared with 20.7% of those who would "definitely not go." Corresponding values were 33.4% and 24.4% for those who reported feeling "very comfortable" and "not at all comfortable," respectively, talking about personal problems with a professional. The associations were consistent among participants with and without a history of help seeking and with and without mood, anxiety, or substance use disorders during the follow-up. Embarrassment if friends found out and beliefs about treatment effectiveness were not associated with future help seeking or service use.

Identification of attitudinal factors most closely linked to future mental health help seeking has potential implications for public mental health campaigns.

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  • 1Dr. Mojtabai is with the Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore (e-mail: ). Dr. Evans-Lacko and Dr. Thornicroft are with the David Goldberg Centre, Department of Health Services and Population Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, United Kingdom. Dr. Schomerus is with the Department of Psychiatry, Greifswald University, Stralsund, Germany.
  •  2016 Feb 14:appips201500164. 

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