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Logo of bmcpsycBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Psychiatry
 
BMC Psychiatry. 2011; 11: 52.
Published online Mar 31, 2011. doi:  10.1186/1471-244X-11-52
PMCID: PMC3079625
Personal stigma and use of mental health services among people with depression in a general population in Finland
Esa Aromaa,corresponding author1 Asko Tolvanen,2 Jyrki Tuulari,3 and Kristian Wahlbeck4
1Vaasa Hospital District and National Institute for Health and Welfare, Psychiatric Unit of Vaasa Central Hospital, Sarjakatu 2, Vaasa, FI- 65320, Finland
2Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, FI-40014, Finland
3South-Ostrobothnia Hospital District, Psychiatric Clinic of Lapua, Sairaalantie 9, FI-62100 Lapua, Finland
4National Institute for Health and Welfare, Psychiatric Unit of Vaasa Central Hospital, Sarjakatu 2, Vaasa, FI- 65320, Finland
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Esa Aromaa: esa.aromaa/at/vshp.fi; Asko Tolvanen: asko.tolvanen/at/psyka.jyu.fi; Jyrki Tuulari: jyrki.tuulari/at/epshp.fi; Kristian Wahlbeck: kristian.wahlbeck/at/thl.fi
Received September 22, 2010; Accepted March 31, 2011.
Abstract
Background
A minority of people suffering from depression seek professional help for themselves. Stigmatizing attitudes are assumed to be one of the major barriers to help seeking but there is only limited evidence of this in large general population data sets. The aim of this study was to analyze the associations between mental health attitude statements and depression and their links to actual use of mental health services among those with depression.
Methods
We used a large cross-sectional data set from a Finnish population survey (N = 5160). Attitudes were measured by scales which measured the belief that people with depression are responsible for their illness and their recovery and attitudes towards antidepressants. Desire for social distance was measured by a scale and depression with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF) instrument. Use of mental health services was measured by self-report.
Results
On the social discrimination scale, people with depression showed more social tolerance towards people with mental problems. They also carried more positive views about antidepressants. Among those with depression, users of mental health services, as compared to non-users, carried less desire for social distance to people with mental health problems and more positive views about the effects of antidepressants. More severe depression predicted more active use of services.
Conclusions
Although stronger discriminative intentions can reduce the use of mental health services, this does not necessarily prevent professional service use if depression is serious and views about antidepressant medication are realistic.
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