Recall of News Stories About Mental Illness by Australian Youth: Associations with Help-Seeking Attitudes and Stigma Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to investigate what news stories about mental illness are recalled by Australian youth and whether these are associated with stigma and help-seeking beliefs. METHOD: A random sample of 3746 Australian youth aged 12-25 years were interviewed about mental health literacy in 2006. As part of the interview, they were asked whether they could recall any news stories about mental health problems during the past 12 months. Stigma was assessed, as well as willingness to seek help for a mental illness described in a vignette. Common news story themes were entered as predictors of stigma components and willingness to seek help in a series of logistic regressions. RESULTS: Only a minority of youth could recall a news story about mental illness. The most common stories recalled were those involving crime or violence; mental health system failures; or disclosures of mental illness by prominent individuals. Recall of a disclosure by a prominent individual was associated with beliefs that people with mental illness are sick rather than weak, while recall of a story involving crime or violence was associated with greater reluctance to tell anyone about a mental health problem. There were no types of stories that predicted willingness to seek help. CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence that recall of positive or negative news stories is associated with specific components of stigma. Overall, however, recall of news stories about mental illness added little explanatory power to differences in stigma or help-seeking intentions.

publication date

  • September 2009