Knowledge and attitudes as predictors of intentions to seek help for and disclose a mental illness

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Jun;62(6):675-8. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.6.pss6206_0675.


Objective: Individuals often choose not to seek help for or disclose their mental illness. This study examined whether having more positive attitudes and more knowledge about mental illness could predict intentions to seek help from a general practitioner and to disclose a mental illness to friends and family members.

Methods: A Department of Health survey in England assessed knowledge about mental illness, attitudes toward people with mental illness, and level of contact with someone with a mental illness among 1,751 adults representative of the general population.

Results: With controls for social grade and race-ethnicity, intentions to seek help were predicted by better knowledge about mental illness, tolerance and support for community care of mental illness, and older age. Willingness to disclose one's mental illness was associated with better knowledge.

Conclusions: Initiatives that increase knowledge and positive attitudes about mental illness among the general population may improve the extent to which individuals seek help for and disclose a mental illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • England
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology
  • General Practice
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Prejudice
  • Public Opinion
  • Self Disclosure*