Objectives: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Onethird (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. Conclusions: Identification of attitudinal factors most closely linked to future mental health help seeking has potential implications for public mental health campaigns.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health