Understanding and awareness of mental health issues greatly influences a person’s choice to seek treatment. Researchers from Kings College in London, examined a survey from the United Kingdom Department of Health to determine if tolerance of and personal experience with mental health issues would affect a person’s willingness to seek help if they needed it. The participants were questioned regarding their knowledge of mental health and their attitudes about certain challenges, and were also asked if they knew someone with a mental health issue. The researchers focused their attention on the participants who said that if they experienced a mental health problem, they would seek treatment. This same group expressed a higher level of support for community-based care for those in need. Additionally, this group of participants appeared to have opinions and answers that reflected the most tolerance toward those with mental health issues. This group, made up of generally older participants, also had a better understanding of treatment options. The research also showed that women were more willing to seek treatment or share their mental health issues with family members, than men.
The research revealed that people who had personal contact with someone suffering from a mental health issue also had more knowledge about mental health in general. They also supported community based care, however, they were not necessarily more likely to get help themselves or disclose their problems to family members or friends. Those participants who expressed prejudice were most often the least informed about mental health and also had the least amount of contact with someone who had a mental health challenge. “Knowledge of mental illness and treatments was the strongest predictor of both help-seeking and disclosure, a finding that underlines the role of mental health literacy in influencing reactions to developing a mental illness,” said the research team, which was led by Nicolas Rusch, M.D.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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