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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Young people's recognition of mental disorders and beliefs about treatment and outcome: findings from an Australian national survey

Nicola J Reavley, Anthony F Jorm
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2011, 45 (10): 890-8
21942746

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to carry out a national survey in order to assess young people's recognition and beliefs about treatment for depression, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia/psychosis.

METHOD: In 2011, telephone interviews were carried out with 3021 Australians aged between 15 and 25 years. Participants were presented with a case vignette describing either depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, depression with alcohol misuse, psychosis/schizophrenia, social phobia or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Questions were asked about what was wrong with the person, help-seeking intentions and the likely helpfulness of a broad range of interventions.

RESULTS: Rates of recognition of depression were relatively high, with almost 75% of respondents using the correct label. Rates of recognition for the psychosis (schizophrenia) and PTSD vignettes were similar, with around one third of respondents using the correct labels. Only 3% of respondents were able to correctly label social phobia. Intentions to seek help were highest for depression with suicidal thoughts and lowest for social phobia, with family members nominated the most likely sources of help across all vignettes.

CONCLUSIONS: Most young people believe in the importance of seeking professional help and they have good recognition of depression. However, there is still potential for young people's mental health literacy to improve in the areas of recognition and treatment beliefs for all the mental disorders covered in this survey, particularly social phobia which has very low recognition rates and a lower perceived need for treatment.

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