Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Jan;18(1):33-40.

Differences in community mental health literacy in older and younger Australians.

Author information

  • 1The Adelaide Clinic and the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.



Depression has been traditionally considered to increase with age, although that may be due to sampling of those who have presented with depressive conditions. It is now recognised that patients' understanding of depression and beliefs about its appropriate treatment, mental health literacy, influences treatment-seeking behaviour.


This study delineates depression, recent use of health services and mental health literacy in a random and representative community sample of younger and older South Australians.


Depression, health service utilisation and mental health literacy were assessed in a random and representative sample of 2010 South Australians. Results for those aged between 65 and 74 years (n=300) and those aged 15 to 24 years (n=521) were compared.


Compared with the younger group, older subjects did not report greater levels of current depression although they were more likely to have seen a medical practitioner in the last 12 months and be taking antidepressants. However, their mental health literacy in terms of recognition of a mental health problem in a vignette was somewhat poorer and fewer recommended treatment from a counsellor, telephone service or psychologist and more considered that a psychiatrist would be harmful. They also more often perceived the clergy as helpful.


Depression was not more common among older than younger members of the community. Despite recognising depression in a vignette less often and perceiving less likelihood of help from several different mental health professionals, those in the older group were more likely to receive antidepressant medication and to have recently consulted a medical practitioner.

Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk