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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