Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the mental health literacy of students. This study is part of the growing interest in mental health literacy among young people. Design/methodology/approach – Over 400 university students indicated their knowledge of over 90 psychiatric illnesses labels derived from DSM:IV. They rated disorders on six questions concerning whether they had heard of the disorder; knew anybody with it; could define or describe it; knew what causes it; whether those with it can be cured; and whether it is common. Findings – On average, participants had heard of just over one‐third of the various illnesses. Those who rated the conditions as more common deemed them to have more known causes and to be more curable. Emotionally intelligent, open‐to‐experience females who had studied relevant academic subjects claimed to be better informed. The participant's age and personality, as well as whether they had studied clinical psychology, related to their awareness. Research limitations/implications – The paper favours recognition of mental disorders over an attempt to understand how well young people understand mental illness. Originality/value – No study has attempted this methodology in the study of mental health literacy.
Journal of Public Mental Health – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 9, 2011
Keywords: Psychiatric literacy; Mental illness; Young people; Youth; Lay theories
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