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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 4, 205 - 217

New research

Attitudes to the seeking of psychiatric help from mental health care professionals and actually seeking help: differences in Europe

M. ten Have, R. de Graaf, J. Ormel, G. Vilagut, V. Kovess, J. Alonso

background Little is known about attitudes to seeking help from mental health care professionals.
aim To investigate these attitudes and their correlates, and find out whether these attitudes are associated with the use of care services.
method Data were derived from the European Study of Epidemiology of Mental Disorders, a survey that is representative of the adult population of six countries (n = 8,796).
results Almost a third of respondents were of the opinion that professional help was worse than or equivalent to no help at all, in relation to serious psychiatric problems. Females, respondents under the age of 65, with a higher income, living in Spain or Italy, with a mood disorder, and those who had previously sought mental health care, more often stated that they would seek professional help if beset by a serious mental health problem. All these groups, except for the younger than 65, also reported more often that they would feel comfortable discussing mental health problems with a professional or that they were receiving this kind of help. All these attitudes were associated with an increased chance that persons would use professional help if beset by mental health problems. conclusion Definite steps need to be taken to increase the visibility and credibility of the mental health services.

keywords epidemiology, mental health care, publics opinion