Mental health literacy: an impediment to the optimum treatment of major depression in the community

J Affect Disord. 2001 May;64(2-3):277-84. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00227-5.


Background: Mental health literacy refers to the knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management and prevention. This study examined the mental health literacy and experience of depression in a random and representative community population.

Methods: The experience of depression and mental health literacy of 3010 subjects from a random and representative population were determined on the basis of responses to the mood module of the PRIME-MD and questions about a vignette of a person with features of major depression.

Results: Those with major depression had significantly more personal experience of depression than those with other depressions and those who were not depressed, but there were few significant differences between the groups in terms of mental health literacy. Of those with major depression, 40% considered anti-depressants helpful, but 40% also considered they were harmful.

Conclusions: There is a considerable impediment to the recognition and management of major depression and a need for further community education programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cognition*
  • Community Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Community Mental Health Services / supply & distribution*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged