The aim of the current study was to carry out a national population-based survey to assess the proportion of people disclosing mental health problems in a variety of settings. A further aim was to explore respondent characteristics associated with disclosure.
In 2014, telephone interviews were carried out with 5220 Australians aged 18+, 1381 of whom reported a mental health problem or scored highly on a symptom screening questionnaire. Questions covered disclosure of mental health problems to friends, intimate partners, other family members, supervisors or other colleagues in the workplace, teachers, lecturers or other students in the educational institution, health professionals and others in the community. Other than for intimate partners or supervisors, participants were asked whether or not they told everybody, some people or no one. Multinomial logistic regression was used to model the correlates of disclosure in each setting.
For friends and family, respondents were more likely to disclose to some people than to everyone or to no one. In most other domains, non-disclosure was most common, including in the workplace, where non-disclosure to supervisors was more likely than disclosure. Disclosure was associated with having received treatment or with support in all settings except healthcare, while it was only associated with discrimination in two settings (healthcare and education).
Disclosure of mental health problems does not appear to be linked to discrimination in most settings, and is typically associated with receiving support. Selective or non-disclosure may be particularly critical in workplaces, education and healthcare settings.