Mental health literacy: A review of what it is and why it matters

Furnham, Adrian and Swami, Viren (2018) Mental health literacy: A review of what it is and why it matters. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 7 (4). pp. 240-257. ISSN 2157-3891

[img] Text
Accepted Version
Available under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (85kB)
Official URL:


An increasing amount of scholarly work has attempted to understand the reasons for poor rates of help-seeking for symptoms of mental health disorders all around the world. One particular body of work has focused on ‘mental health literacy’ (MHL) defined as knowledge about mental health disorders that are associated with their recognition, management, and prevention. In this paper we report a non-systematic review of studies on MHL, to give non-expert academics, policy makers and practitioners an understanding of the field. We find that studies consistently show that the general public have relatively poor recognition of the symptoms of mental health disorders and appear to emphasise self-help over traditional medical treatments. In addition, we find that there are age, gender, educational, urban-rural and cross-cultural differences in MHL, which may differentially affect rates of help-seeking in different contexts. Implications and future directions for research are considered in conclusion.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Mental health literacy, Lay beliefs, Mental illness, Explanatory models, Cross-cultural
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Viren Swami
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2018 15:44
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:56

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item