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Mental Health Literacy and the Belief in the Supernatural

DOI: 10.4236/ojpsych.2015.54038, PP. 334-341

Keywords: Mental Health Literacy, Age, Education Level, Belief in the Supernatural

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Objective: Mental health literacy affects treatment seeking. We compare literacy levels of psychiatric outpatients and a control group of outpatients seeking treatment for non-psychiatric disorders in the same hospital. We hypothesized higher levels of mental health literacy among psychiatric patients than controls, with younger age and higher educational levels associated with better literacy. We also hypothesized that there would be an inverse relationship between educational level and the belief in the supernatural causality of mental disorders. Methods: Literacy was estimated by showing psychiatric outpatients and a control group of non-psychiatric patients vignettes depicting a case of major depression and a case of generalised anxiety disorder. Their opinions regarding diagnosis, etiology, treatment, and attitudes towards mental health services were ascertained by structured questionnaires. Results: Psychiatric patients did not demonstrate superior mental health literacy compared to controls, with the exception of knowing where to obtain a psychiatric referral. Lower age and higher education levels of psychiatric patients were associated with better literacy. The higher the education level is, the less likely to attribute the causality of mental disorders to supernatural elements. Conclusion: This study highlights the need for a program of psycho-education targeting patients, their relatives, and the public.


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