Mental Health Literacy, Attitudes to Help Seeking, and Perceived Need as Predictors of Mental Health Service Use: A Longitudinal Study

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Many people with mental health problems do not use mental health care, resulting in poorer clinical and social outcomes. Reasons for low service use rates are still incompletely understood. In this longitudinal, population-based study, we investigated the influence of mental health literacy, attitudes toward mental health services, and perceived need for treatment at baseline on actual service use during a 6-month follow-up period, controlling for sociodemographic variables, symptom level, and a history of lifetime mental health service use. Positive attitudes to mental health care, higher mental health literacy, and more perceived need at baseline significantly predicted use of psychotherapy during the follow-up period. Greater perceived need for treatment and better literacy at baseline were predictive of taking psychiatric medication during the following 6 months. Our findings suggest that mental health literacy, attitudes to treatment, and perceived need may be targets for interventions to increase mental health service use.

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