Objective: This study attempted to understand gender differences in knowledge of mental illness, preference for professional help, and medications and treatment methods among Australians of Chinese-speaking background.
Methods: This study adopted a cluster convenience sampling method in which subjects were taken from the four major areas in cosmopolitan Melbourne where most Chinese people are living. A total of 200 Chinese-speaking Australians participated in the study. They were presented with two vignettes describing an individual with acute depression or acute schizophrenia and then questions were asked to assess their understanding of the conditions, preference for professional help, medications and treatment methods.
Results: More female than male respondents could correctly identify the conditions in the two vignettes. Female participants also perceived medications to be relatively more harmful than their male counterparts. In contrast, there were significantly more males than females who adhered to traditional views on the causation of mental illness; had significantly higher percentages of endorsement of 'deal with it alone'; believed 'traditional Chinese medical doctor' and 'Chinese herbal medicines' to be helpful to the person in the schizophrenia vignette; and significantly endorsed 'psychiatric ward', 'electro-convulsive treatment', 'changing fungshui' and 'traditional Chinese worship' to be helpful for the persons in both vignettes. A combination of factors, which included age, duration of migration and traditional Chinese cultural values, were put forward to explain the above differences.
Conclusions: Campaigns to improve the mental health literacy of Chinese-speaking Australians must take into account the gender differences between male and female Chinese-speaking Australians so that culturally relevant and gender-specific education programmes can be developed.