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

Poster B2, Tuesday, October 9, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Chantal Michel1,2, Nina Schnyder1, Stefanie J. Schmidt1, Susann Ochsenbein1, Nicola Groth1, Benno G. Schimmelmann1,3, Frauke Schultze-Lutter1,4; 1University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Switzerland, 2Developmental Clinical Psychology Research Unit, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 3University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany, 4Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany

Objective: Absent or delayed help-seeking is considered to aggravate the immense personal and societal burden caused by mental disorders. This study aimed to examine rates and moderators of help-seeking for current clinician-assessed non-psychotic mental problems/disorders in the community. Methods: In total, 2,683 individuals of the Swiss Canton Bern (16–40 years old, response rate of 63.4%) were interviewed by telephone for current axis-I problems/disorders using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, for psychosocial functioning using the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale, and for help-seeking for mental problems. Results: In total, 1,122 (41.8%) reported mental problems, in which 769 (28.7%) affirmed any one screening question and 353 (13.2%) fulfilled criteria for any current axis-I disorder. Of 1,122 individuals, 35.3% reported having sought help at any time; 28.3% of which reported having sought help in the past and 7.0%, being in current treatment. In path analyses, current help-seeking was predicted mainly by type and number of mental problems/disorders mediated by functional impairment, in addition to older age, no current partner, and past treatment. Conclusion: We found a significant gap in the treatment of mental problems/disorders. Relationship between number of mental problems/disorders and help-seeking mediated by functional impairment indicates that a higher disease burden leads to more help-seeking. Our findings confirm that individuals commonly do not seek help until problems are severe enough to cause problems in occupational and psychosocial functioning, driving the already immense costs of mental disorders. Thus, campaigns promoting help-seeking should focus on psychosocial functioning, aside from signs of mental illness.

Topic Area: Epidemiology

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