Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 433-439

What adolescent girls know about mental health: Findings from a mental health literacy survey from an Urban slum setting in India

1 Department of Psychiatry, BJ Government Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Prabha S Chandra
Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_108_18

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Background: Youth in vulnerable situations are known to have high rates of mental disorders but low help-seeking. Help-seeking is known to be influenced by mental health literacy (MHL), a key concept that is important for the recognition of mental disorders and planning intervention. Aims: To explore MHL and help-seeking patterns in a group of young women in an urban slum setting in India. Materials and Methods: A total of 337 young women between 16 and 19 years of age belonging to urban slum settings formed the study sample. Two vignettes on depression and self-harm were used to assess: (a) recognition of the disorder, (b) help-seeking, and (c) knowledge of treatments available. Results: Only 8% of women were able to label the condition as depression in the first vignette. Though suicidality was identified correctly by the majority of participants 73 (63%), they did not think it needed urgent intervention. Only a few considered mental health professionals as possible sources of help (19.3% for depression and 2.4% for self-harm). Majority of the young women felt friends and parents were sources of help, and that stigma and lack of awareness were the reasons for not considering professional help. Conclusion: MHL regarding depression and suicidality is low among young women from low-income areas. It is a critical and urgent need to encourage early and appropriate help-seeking for mental health problems in this vulnerable population.

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