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Gender Influences Mental Health Literacy, Depression Perception

Last Updated: November 16, 2012.

There are gender differences in mental health literacy, both among the respondents' attitudes and toward identifying depression in the target, which correlate with attitudes toward and seeking psychological help for mental health disorders, according to a vignette study published online Nov. 14 in PLoS One.

FRIDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- There are gender differences in mental health literacy, both among the respondents' attitudes and toward identifying depression in the target, which correlate with attitudes toward and seeking psychological help for mental health disorders, according to a vignette study published online Nov. 14 in PLoS One.

Viren Swami, Ph.D., from the University of Westminster in London, surveyed a representative sample of the British population (1,218 adults) to assess the ability to correctly recognize vignettes of depression. Vignettes were rated along a number of attitudinal dimensions and respondents were queried regarding attitudes toward seeking psychological help, psychiatric skepticism, and anti-scientific attitudes.

The researcher found that respondent and target gender had a significant influence on the ability to correctly identify cases of depression. Respondents were more likely to suggest that male vignettes did not suffer from a mental health disorder, versus female vignettes. In addition, female respondents were more likely than male respondents to identify a mental health disorder in a male vignette. There was an association between attitudes towards persons with depression and attitudes toward seeking psychological help, psychiatric skepticism, and anti-scientific attitudes.

"Initiatives that consider the impact of gender stereotypes as well as individual differences may enhance mental health literacy, which in turn is associated with improved help-seeking behaviors for symptoms of mental ill-health," Swami writes.

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