Mental Health

Mental Health Treatment: It’s Commonly Accepted Yet Not So Easy To Obtain Or Understand


Mental Health Treatment: It’s Commonly Accepted Yet Not So Easy To Obtain Or Understand

Seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional isn’t an unusual thing; in fact it’s relatively common. Nearly three in ten U.S. adults (29%) report that they have received treatment or therapy from a psychologist or other mental health professional. The survey also found that younger adults are more open to seeking mental health treatment than those over 50 and that many adults are not as discouraged from seeking treatment because of stigma or fear of others finding out.
Additional results of a nationwide study of 2,529 U.S. adults surveyed online between April 7 and 15, 2008 by Harris Interactive® in conjunction with the American Psychological Association are as follows:
— Men (28%) and women (30%) are equally likely to have received treatment or therapy from a psychologist or other mental health professional;
— Generationally, adults 65 and older are the least likely to have received treatment (17%) followed by those 50 – 64 years old (25%). Younger adults are more likely to have received therapy, especially those in their 20’s (34%), and 30’s (36%);

Mental Health Treatment: It’s Commonly Accepted Yet Not So Easy To Obtain Or Understand

Seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional isn’t an unusual thing; in fact it’s relatively common. Nearly three in ten U.S. adults (29%) report that they have received treatment or therapy from a psychologist or other mental health professional. The survey also found that younger adults are more open to seeking mental health treatment than those over 50 and that many adults are not as discouraged from seeking treatment because of stigma or fear of others finding out.

Additional results of a nationwide study of 2,529 U.S. adults surveyed online between April 7 and 15, 2008 by Harris Interactive® in conjunction with the American Psychological Association are as follows:

— Men (28%) and women (30%) are equally likely to have received treatment or therapy from a psychologist or other mental health professional;

— Generationally, adults 65 and older are the least likely to have received treatment (17%) followed by those 50 – 64 years old (25%). Younger adults are more likely to have received therapy, especially those in their 20’s (34%), and 30’s (36%);

— Financial considerations are the leading barrier to receiving care, either through lack of insurance coverage (52%) or concerns over cost (42%).

Why do People Consider Treatment?

People seek treatment for help with a variety of the challenges that life presents.

— The most common reason, mentioned by nearly six in ten adults (59%), is depression and anxiety. In fact, nearly eight in ten (79%) who had received treatment in the past cited depression and anxiety as a reason they might seek treatment in the future;

— Other common reasons for which people would consider seeking therapy include trauma and post-traumatic stress (42%), relationship problems with family members or others (37%), grieving for a loved one (35%), and stress that causes physical problems such as stomach or back pain (30%);

— The reasons for seeking treatment differ by gender and age. Women are more likely than men to consider therapy for trauma (47% vs. 36%), family or relationship problems (40% vs. 33%) and grieving for a loved one (42% vs. 28%);

— Older adults (65 and above) are the least likely to have received therapy, yet they are most likely to consider it for help adjusting and recovering after a serious injury or medical procedure (35%). They are also as likely as younger adults to consider treatment when grieving for a loved one (38%).

What Prevents People from Seeking Treatment?

When U.S. adults are asked to consider why they or others might not seek treatment from a mental health professional, responses fall into two main categories lack of knowledge about the process and access to care.

— Two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults mention one or more factors related to a basic lack of understanding about the treatment process itself – lack of confidence in the outcome (34%), lack of knowledge about how to find the right professional (31%), or not knowing if it’s appropriate to seek help (28%);

— Sixty-seven percent of respondents cited access to care as a reason why they or others might not seek treatment, with half (52%) noting cost and 42% reporting lack of insurance;

— Interestingly, concerns over stigma or privacy, though mentioned by more than half of adults (56%), are mentioned less commonly than access or knowledge of the process as reasons not to seek mental health treatment. Specifically, one-quarter of adults (26%) mention stigma as a reason for not seeking treatment, 22 percent mention concerns about what others might think of them, 19 percent are concerned about people finding out and 15 percent mention concerns about confidentiality.

— While men and women are equally likely to have actually gone to therapy they differ in what they perceive as the barriers to treatment. Women are more likely to mention issues related to access (72% vs. 62% of men) while men are more likely to cite factors related to lack of knowledge about the process (71% vs. 64% of women). They are equally likely to consider stigma or privacy a barrier to treatment (58% vs. 55%).

According to Dr. Richard Millard, Group President of Harris Interactive, “It’s a paradox of sorts that therapy for mental health has become commonplace and rather normal, even though a sizeable proportion of Americans say it’s either difficult to afford, or hard to understand how it works”.

American Life and Mental Health Care

Millions of Americans have received treatment from a mental health professional, yet many continue to face problems of access, lack of understanding or perceived stigma. These survey results suggest that providing adequate insurance coverage for mental health issues and educating the public about treatment effectiveness may help improve access to care for those in need of psychological services

Methodology

This study was conducted online within the United States between April 7 and 15, 2008, among 2,529 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Full data tables and methodology for this study can be found at http://www.harrisinteractive.com.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit http://www.harrisinteractive.com.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Reviewed by Forum Admin 03-04-10

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