Mental health literacy about schizophrenia and depression: a survey among Chinese caregivers of patients with mental disorder

BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Mar 9;17(1):89. doi: 10.1186/s12888-017-1245-y.


Objective: To investigate the knowledge of schizophrenia and depression among caregivers of patients with mental disorder in China.

Method: A convenience sample of 402 caregivers at the Department of Psychiatry of a general hospital in China was investigated (response rate 95.7%), using vignettes based investigation methodology.

Results: The number of caregivers using the term "depression" to describe the depression vignette was 43.6%, which was significantly higher than the number of caregivers using the term "schizophrenia" to describe the schizophrenia one (28.5%). A high percentage of caregivers believed that "psychiatrist", "psychologist" and "close family members" would be helpful, and the top three most helpful interventions were "becoming more physically active", "getting out and learning more" and "receiving psychotherapy". The number of caregivers endorsed "antipsychotics" and "antidepressants" as helpful for the schizophrenia and the depression vignettes were 82.0 and 80.7%, respectively. Regarding the causes of mental illness, items related to psychosocial factors, including "daily problems" and "work or financial problems", and "weakness of character" were highly rated, with half considered genetic or chemical imbalance causes.

Conclusion: Caregivers expressed a high knowledge about treatments and interventions of mental disorders. But there are still some areas, particularly regarding the recognition and causes of mental disorders, that are in need of improvement. This is particularly the case for schizophrenia.

Keywords: Beliefs; Caregivers; China; Mental health literacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group* / education
  • Caregivers* / education
  • Caregivers* / trends
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies / methods
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Literacy / methods*
  • Health Literacy / trends
  • Hospitals, General / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / trends
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Schizophrenia / therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents