Media Intervention Increases Help-Seeking In Clinically Distressed Individuals

Individuals in need of psychological help often do not seek the care they need because they are afraid of disclosing their mental health problems, are unsure of the outcome of treatment, or are concerned with the stigma associated with mental health interventions. Mental health organizations have devised creative and subtle methods to overcome these barriers, including print media, television ads, and other community-based campaigns. Amy L. Demyan of the Department of Psychology at Ohio University wanted to find out if these types of programs were effective at increasing help-seeking and recently led a study examining how college students’ treatment attitudes and intentions were affected after viewing a television intervention.

The goal of Demyan’s study was to develop an intervention that would help individuals overcome their negative beliefs with respect to treatment. For her study, Demyan enlisted 228 college students and had them view programming with and without a public service–style announcement designed to address the barriers. She found that overall, the intervention did not positively influence the participants’ beliefs about treatment; however, it did change their attitudes. Specifically, Demyan discovered that the participants who had been in treatment before were more likely to seek treatment again after viewing the intervention. Interestingly, this finding was even more evident in participants with the highest levels of distress. The results also revealed that women had more positive beliefs and attitudes with respect to treatment, but men sought treatment more than the women in the study.

Demyan believes that these results support previous literature but also provide new insight into the complicated views that individuals have about treatment. Community programs and clinicians may consider working harder to address issues pertaining to help-seeking in men and women with no previous treatment experience. She added, “Efforts to better understand the underlying mechanisms in the help-seeking attitudes and intentions of distressed men with past help-seeking behavior could potentially lead to more effective interventions tailored to the unique needs of the male subpopulation.”

Demyan, A. L., & Anderson, T. (2012). Effects of a Brief Media Intervention on Expectations, Attitudes, and Intentions of Mental Health Help Seeking. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026541

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  • faith


    February 29th, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    Good to know that for once the media is finally getting something right.
    Instead of making one group of the population feel bad about themselves for something they are giving them a way to seek and find some hope.
    Great job!

  • christine powers

    christine powers

    February 29th, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    I have seen some of those newer ads and they really do catch you and reel you in and make you pay attention. If this is something that really impacts someone, that attention to media advertising, then this is going to make a lot of difference in numerous lives. It is like we have finally caught up to what people need to see and hear and thankfully it is working.

  • Beth d symphony

    Beth d symphony

    March 1st, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    If the media can decide who people vote for then it can also be used for a few positive and beneficial things like these..That’s true!

  • Aileen


    March 1st, 2012 at 5:24 AM

    Am I the only one who thinks that the fact that print and media are doing a better job at influencing decisons, good and bad, than people are kind of frightening?

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