BY HAMISH HASTIE
Teenagers with depression and anxiety are not seeking help because they do not want anyone to know they have a mental illness, a study has revealed.
The Australian National University study, headed by Dr Alison Calear, found many teenagers with mental health problems feared negative responses toward them.
“Young people do not seek help for depression because of a fear of negative attitudes in the wider community, especially from their peers,” she said.
Dr Calear said the research would help mental illness youth groups to better understand how other people perceived the disease.
“Stigmatising attitudes and beliefs towards depression are not uncommon and can lead to feelings of fear, avoidance, bias, anger or distrust towards individuals with the disorder,” Dr Calear said.
Nurse Karis Fullston, 19, said youths were not over-estimating the stigma attached to mental illnesses.
“People look at it negatively, I’ve seen it from friends and at work,” she said.
“It’s sad but true, people just don’t understand that it is an illness.”
Dr Calear said the study found teenagers over-rated the negative stigma of mental illness in society.
“Greater understanding of the development of stigmatising attitudes and beliefs can help inform new strategies and techniques to reduce stigma in the community and ultimately increase help-seeking behaviour,” she said.
Published in the Western Independent October 2010