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Is the use of accurate psychiatric labels associated with intentions and beliefs about responses to mental illness in a friend? Findings from two national surveys of Australian youth

  • M. B. H. Yap (a1) (a2), N. J Reavley (a1) (a2) and A. F. Jorm (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Aims.

An inherent prerequisite to mental health first-aid (MHFA) is the ability to identify that there is a mental health problem, but little is known about the association between psychiatric labelling and MHFA. This study examined this association using data from two national surveys of Australian young people.

Methods.

This study involved a national telephonic survey of 3746 Australian youth aged 12–25 years in 2006, and a similar survey in 2011 with 3021 youth aged 15–25 years. In both surveys, respondents were presented with a vignette portraying depression, psychosis or social phobia in a young person. The 2011 survey also included depression with suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder. Respondents were asked what they thought was wrong with the person, and reported on their first-aid intentions and beliefs, which were scored for quality of the responses.

Results.

Accurate labelling of the mental disorder was associated with more helpful first-aid intentions and beliefs across vignettes, except for the intention to listen non-judgementally in the psychosis vignette.

Conclusions.

Findings suggest that community education programmes that improve accurate psychiatric label use may have the potential to improve the first-aid responses young people provide to their peers, although caution is required in the case of psychosis.

Copyright

Corresponding author

* Address for correspondence: Dr Marie Yap, Population Mental Health Group, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Level 3, 207 Bouverie Street, Victoria 3010, Australia. (Email: mbhy@unimelb.edu.au)

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Yap, MBH, Reavley, N, Jorm, AF (2013 a). Where would young people seek help for mental disorders and what stops them? findings from an Australian national survey. Journal of Affective Disorders 147, 255261.
Yap, MBH, Reavley, N, Mackinnon, AJ, Jorm, AF (2013 b). Psychiatric labels and other influences on young people's stigmatizing attitudes: findings from an Australian national survey. Journal of Affective Disorders 148, 299309.
Yap, MBH, Reavley, NJ, Jorm, AF (2013 c). The associations between psychiatric label use and young people's help-seeking preferences: results from an Australian national survey. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. doi: 10.1017/S2045796013000073

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