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Stigma about depression and its impact on help-seeking intentions

Stigma about depression and its impact on help-seeking intentions

Abstract

Objective: Research has shown that people are reluctant to seek professional help for depression, especially from mental health professionals. This may be because of the impact of stigma which can involve people's own responses to depression and help-seeking (self stigma) as well as their perceptions of others’ negative responses (perceived stigma). The aim of this article was to examine community help-seeking intentions and stigmatizing beliefs associated with depression. Method: A total of 1312 adults randomly sampled from the Australian community completed a questionnaire providing a depression vignette and measures of selfand perceived-stigmatizing responses, source-specific help-seeking intentions, current depressive symptoms and depression experience, and demographics. Results: Many people reported they would feel embarrassed about seeking help from professionals, and believed that other people would have a negative reaction to them if they sought such help. Some expected professionals to respond negatively to them. Responses varied according to the sources of professional help. Self-embarrassment and expectations that others would respond negatively predicted the likelihood of help-seeking from professional sources. Conclusion: Self- and perceived-stigmatizing responses to help-seeking for depression are prevalent in the community and are associated with reluctance to seek professional help. Interventions should focus on minimizing expectations of negative responses from others and negative self-responses to help-seeking, and should target younger people.
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