Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 234-241

Mental health literacy among late adolescents in South India: What they know and what attitudes drive them

1 Department of Public Health, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Biostatistics, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Varalakshmi Chandra Sekaran
Department of Public Health, (MMMC) Manipal University, Madhav Nagar, Manipal – 576 104, Manipal, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7176.183092

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Background: Early recognition of mental health problems gives an individual the opportunity for better long-term outcomes if intervention is initiated early. Mental health literacy is a related concept which is increasingly seen as an important measure of the awareness and knowledge of mental health disorders. Aim and Objectives: This study aimed at assessing the mental health literacy, help-seeking behavior and beliefs and attitudes related to mental illnesses among adolescents attending preuniversity colleges. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among randomly selected preuniversity college students (n = 916). Data were collected through self-administered questionnaires. Data were computed using STATA. Analysis and interpretation were carried out using descriptives and Chi-square test. Results: Of the 916 respondents, 54.15% were male while 45.85% were female. The majority (78.60%) of the respondents ascribed to the Hindu religion, hailed largely from rural areas (57.21%) and were mostly studying in the 11th standard (72.49%). The percentage of mental health literacy among the respondents was very low, i.e., depression was identified by 29.04% and schizophrenia/psychosis was recognized by 1.31%. The study findings indicate that adolescents preferred reaching out more to informal sources including family members such as mothers than formal sources for self than for others indicating deeply prevalent stigmatizing attitudes toward mental health conditions. Conclusions: There is a need for immediate improvement in the knowledge of adolescents on mental health literacy which suggests that programs need to be developed such that adolescents can seek help from valid resources if the need were to arise and have appropriate knowledge on whom to approach for help.

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