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An Australian survey, conducted by the Orygen Youth Health Research Center and the University of Melbourne, found that people are more willing to disclose having a mental health problem and receiving treatment for it than they have been in the past. The survey also found that most respondents displayed improved knowledge and beliefs about mental health issues within their community.
Researchers point towards better educational campaigns about mental health as a likely factor. "This greater awareness and changing attitudes towards mental health problems mostly likely fuels the increase in the willingness to discuss mental health problems," says lead researcher Dr. Nicola Reavley from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in a release.
The survey was conducted nationally in Australia and asks questions about mental health problems and literacy (understanding) of the respondents. The results of this latest survey were compared to similar surveys conducted in 1995.
For comparison, in 1995, 45 percent of respondents said they know someone similar to the person in the sample case description used to illustrate someone with a mental illness such as depression or schizophrenia. In 2011, 71 percent said they knew someone, a marked difference. The rate of increase was steady, with 2003-04 surveys having a higher rate than 1995 but lower than 2011.
Researchers hope their findings encourage more public education and help design more anti-stigma interventions and research.
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