Help-seeking for Mental Problems in the General Population: Results on the Treatment Gap from a Telephone Survey

Poster C41, Saturday, October 22, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Chantal Michel1, Nina Schnyder1, Benno G. Schimmelmann1, Frauke Schultze-Lutter1; 1University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Absent or delayed help-seeking is one of the main reasons for the high personal and social burden caused by mental disorders. The aim of our study was therefore to examine (non-) help-seeking for current mental disorders in persons of the general population within an age range at highest risk to develop a first psychiatric disorder. 2,683 persons living in the Swiss Canton Bern and aged 16-40 years were interviewed on the telephone for current axis-I disorders (excl. psychoses) using the ‘Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview’ and for lifetime help-seeking for mental problems using a modified version of the WHO pathway-to-care questionnaire. 351 (13.1%) persons reported at least one current axis-I disorder, 142 of them (40.4%) exclusively fulfilled criteria for a specific phobia. 48.4% of the affected persons reported having sought help for a mental problem at any time; 13.6% were currently in treatment, 4.8% only sporadically. Excluding specific phobia, 65.6% of persons fulfilling criteria of a current axis-I disorder reported help-seeking, 22.0% were currently in treatment, 8.1% only sporadically. We found a significant treatment gap in the treatment of mental disorders, which can be assumed to hold also true for the entire Switzerland and likely beyond. This treatment gap likely reflects an underutilisation of existing services rather than deficits in service provision. Possible influencing factors (e.g., age, gender, urbanicity, education, life satisfaction, kind of diagnosis, attitudes towards affected persons as well as towards the mental health system) have to be analysed to better tailor future information campaigns encouraging earlier help-seeking.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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