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Recognition and beliefs about treatment for mental disorders in mainland China: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Abstract

Purpose

This review aimed to systematically investigate the Chinese public’s ability to recognize specific mental disorders and their knowledge and beliefs about available treatments.

Methods

Eight electronic databases were searched to identify quantitative studies examining recognition of depression, anxiety and/or schizophrenia, knowledge and beliefs about treatments, and/or correlates of each of the three constructs among the general population in China. Prevalence estimates were calculated for themes under each construct. Effect size r was computed for each relationship between an independent variable and one of the three constructs.

Results

A total of 65 studies (N = 174,253) were included in this review. Depression (25.4%), anxiety (18.2%) and schizophrenia (18.4%) had low recognition rates. More than 80% of people agreed that one should seek professional help for mental illnesses, but fewer than 40% were likely to use professional services for their own mental health issues. Regarding psychiatric medications, 57% of the respondents agreed that medications should be taken regularly, but more than 60% believed that they would be harmful. Gender, income, residential area, occupation, education and marital status were significantly associated with level of mental health knowledge.

Conclusions

The public’s level of mental health literacy related to recognition of specific mental disorders, and knowledge and beliefs about treatments is still relatively low. The government should consider public education campaigns to improve this.

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Fig. 1

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Correspondence to Wenjing Li.

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Li, W., Reavley, N. Recognition and beliefs about treatment for mental disorders in mainland China: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 55, 129–149 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-019-01799-3

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Keywords

  • Mental health literacy
  • Mainland China
  • Mental health knowledge
  • Beliefs about mental health services