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An exploration of mental health literacy in relation to depression in secondary school pupils

2017-07, Doyle, Ericka, O'Sullivan, Shaunagh, Nearchou, Finiki, Hennessy, Eilis

Mental Health Literacy (MHL) refers to knowledge and beliefs about mental health problems. Although mostly studied in adult samples, it has been associated with help-seeking intentions and health service use in adolescents. The aim of the present study was to explore depression MHL and its association with help seeking intentions in a sample of adolescent participants (n = 235, 135 males) from the final three years of secondary school (mean = 16.6 years, SD = .65) in Ireland. Knowledge of depression and help-seeking intentions were measured using vignettes and self-report instruments. Findings show that the majority of adolescents recognised that a combination of depression symptoms constituted a serious mental health problem. However, they demonstrated very low MHL levels on specific symptoms such as somatic pains.The finding of restricted knowledge of depression symptoms, indicates a need for targeted interventions to improve MHL, and specifically of symptoms of depression.