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The prevalence of common mental disorders has not declined in high-income countries despite substantial increases in service provision. A possible reason for this lack of improvement is that greater willingness to disclose mental disorders might have led to increased reporting of psychiatric symptoms, thus masking reductions in prevalence. This masking hypothesis was tested using data from two trials of interventions that increased willingness to disclose and that also measured symptoms. Both interventions involved Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, which is known to reduce stigma, including unwillingness to disclose a mental health problem.
A cross-lagged panel analysis was carried out on data from two large Australian randomised controlled trials of MHFA training. The first trial involved 1643 high school students in Year 10 (mean age 15.87 years), who were randomised to receive either teen MHFA training or physical first aid training as the control. The second trial involved 608 Australia public servants who were randomised to receive either eLearning MHFA, blended eLearning MHFA or eLearning physical first aid as the control. In both trials, willingness to disclose a mental disorder as described in vignettes and psychiatric symptoms (K6 scale) were measured pre-training, post-training and at 12-month follow-up.
Both trials found that MHFA training increased willingness to disclose. However, a cross-lagged panel analysis showed no effect of this change on psychiatric symptom scores.
Greater willingness to disclose did not affect psychiatric symptom scores. Because the trials increased willingness to disclose through a randomly assigned intervention, they provide a strong causal test of the masking hypothesis. It is therefore unlikely that changes in willingness to disclose are masking reductions in prevalence in the population.
The aim of the current study was to carry out a national population-based survey to assess the proportion of people disclosing mental health problems in a variety of settings. A further aim was to explore respondent characteristics associated with disclosure.
In 2014, telephone interviews were carried out with 5220 Australians aged 18+, 1381 of whom reported a mental health problem or scored highly on a symptom screening questionnaire. Questions covered disclosure of mental health problems to friends, intimate partners, other family members, supervisors or other colleagues in the workplace, teachers, lecturers or other students in the educational institution, health professionals and others in the community. Other than for intimate partners or supervisors, participants were asked whether or not they told everybody, some people or no one. Multinomial logistic regression was used to model the correlates of disclosure in each setting.
For friends and family, respondents were more likely to disclose to some people than to everyone or to no one. In most other domains, non-disclosure was most common, including in the workplace, where non-disclosure to supervisors was more likely than disclosure. Disclosure was associated with having received treatment or with support in all settings except healthcare, while it was only associated with discrimination in two settings (healthcare and education).
Disclosure of mental health problems does not appear to be linked to discrimination in most settings, and is typically associated with receiving support. Selective or non-disclosure may be particularly critical in workplaces, education and healthcare settings.
To examine: (1) gender-specific determinants of help-seeking for mental health, including health professional consultation and the use of non-clinical support services and self-management strategies (SS/SM) and; (2) gender differences among individuals with unmet perceived need for care.
Analyses focused on 689 males and 1075 females aged 16–85 years who met ICD-10 criteria for a past-year affective, anxiety or substance use disorder in an Australian community-representative survey. Two classifications of help-seeking for mental health in the previous year were created: (1) no health professional consultation or SS/SM, or health professional consultation, or SS/SM only, and; (2) no general practitioner (GP) or mental health professional consultation, or GP only consultation, or mental health professional consultation. Between- and within-gender help-seeking patterns were explored using multinomial logistic regression models. Characteristics of males and females with unmet perceived need for care were compared using chi-square tests.
Males with mental or substance use disorders had relatively lower odds than females of any health professional consultation (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.46), use of SS/SM only (AOR = 0.59), and GP only consultation (AOR = 0.29). Notably, males with severe disorders had substantially lower odds than females of any health professional consultation (AOR = 0.29) and GP only consultation (AOR = 0.14). Most correlates of help-seeking were need-related. Many applied to both genders (e.g., severity, disability, psychiatric comorbidity), although some were male-specific (e.g., past-year reaction to a traumatic event) or female-specific (e.g., past-year affective disorder). Certain enabling and predisposing factors increased the probability of health professional consultation for both genders (age 30+ years) or for males (unmarried, single parenthood, reliance on government pension). Males with unmet perceived need for care were more likely to have experienced a substance use disorder and to want medicine or tablets or social intervention, whereas their females peers were more likely to have experienced an anxiety disorder and to want counselling or talking therapy. For both genders, attitudinal/knowledge barriers to receiving the types of help wanted (e.g., not knowing where to get help) were more commonly reported than structural barriers (e.g., cost).
Findings suggest a need to address barriers to help-seeking in males with severe disorders, and promote GP consultation. Exploring gender-specific attitudinal/knowledge barriers to receiving help, and the types of help wanted, may assist in designing interventions to increase consultation. Mental health promotion/education efforts could incorporate information about the content and benefits of evidence-based treatments and encourage males to participate in other potentially beneficial actions (e.g., physical activity).
It is increasingly recognised that intersectoral linkages between mental health and other health and support sectors are essential for providing effective care for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. The extent to which intersectoral collaboration and approaches to achieve it are detailed in mental health policy has not yet been systematically examined.
Thirty-eight mental health policy documents from 22 jurisdictions in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada were identified via a web search. Information was extracted and synthesised on: the extent to which intersectoral collaboration was an objective or guiding principle of policy; the sectors acknowledged as targets for collaboration; and the characteristics of detailed intersectoral collaboration efforts.
Recurring themes in objectives/guiding principles included a whole of government approach, coordination and integration of services, and increased social and economic participation. All jurisdictions acknowledged the importance of intersectoral collaboration, particularly with employment, education, housing, community, criminal justice, drug and alcohol, physical health, Indigenous, disability, emergency and aged care services. However, the level of detail provided varied widely. Where detailed strategies were described, the most common linkage mechanisms were joint service planning through intersectoral coordinating committees or liaison workers, interagency agreements, staff training and joint service provision.
Sectors and mechanisms identified for collaboration were largely consistent across jurisdictions. Little information was provided about strategies for accountability, resourcing, monitoring and evaluation of intersectoral collaboration initiatives, highlighting an area for further improvement. Examples of collaboration detailed in the policies provide a useful resource for other countries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Emerging evidence suggests that psychiatric labels may facilitate help seeking in young people. This study examined whether young people's use of accurate labels for five disorders would predict their help-seeking preferences.
Young people's help-seeking intentions were assessed by a national telephone survey of 3021 Australian youths aged 15–25. Respondents were presented with a vignette of a young person portraying depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, psychosis, social phobia or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They were then asked what they thought was wrong with the person, and where they would go for help if they had a similar problem.
Accurate psychiatric label use was associated with a preference to seek help from a general practitioner or mental health specialist. Accurately labelling the psychosis vignette was also associated with a preference to not seek help from family or friends.
Findings add to the emerging evidence that accurate psychiatric labelling may facilitate help seeking for various mental disorders in young people, and support the promise of community awareness campaigns designed to improve young people's ability to accurately identify mental disorders.
Although mental health information on the internet is often of poor quality, relatively little is known about the quality of websites, such as Wikipedia, that involve participatory information sharing. The aim of this paper was to explore the quality of user-contributed mental health-related information on Wikipedia and compare this with centrally controlled information sources.
Content on 10 mental health-related topics was extracted from 14 frequently accessed websites (including Wikipedia) providing information about depression and schizophrenia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a psychiatry textbook. The content was rated by experts according to the following criteria: accuracy, up-to-dateness, breadth of coverage, referencing and readability.
Ratings varied significantly between resources according to topic. Across all topics, Wikipedia was the most highly rated in all domains except readability.
The quality of information on depression and schizophrenia on Wikipedia is generally as good as, or better than, that provided by centrally controlled websites, Encyclopaedia Britannica and a psychiatry textbook.
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