Attitudes toward mental health help seeking as predictors of future help-seeking behavior and use of mental health treatments

Ramin Mojtabai, Sara Evans-Lacko, Georg Schomerus, Graham Thornicroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-657
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatric Services
Volume67
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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