Attitudes Toward Help-Seeking and Duration of Untreated Mental Disorders in a Sectorized Athens Area of Greece
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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association of opinions towards seeking psychiatric help with the duration of untreated mental disorders in a sectorized Athens area, served by a Community Mental Health Centre. The sample consisted of 134 individuals who had sought help from health or mental health non sectorized services prior to their visit to the Centre (group A) and 156 individuals whose visit to the Center was their first ever contact with a mental health service (group B). Opinions were assessed by the “Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help scale. Both groups were selected from a total of 1,008 individuals who had visited the Centre in four consecutive years. The duration of untreated mental disorders was found to be shorter in group A compared to group B. Males and females of both groups, who had visited the Centre in a time period shorter than 12 months since the onset of their psychopathology, expressed more positive views towards help-seeking, compared to their counterparts with longer duration of untreated mental disorder. The variables of gender (females), age at symptom onset (younger) and education (higher) predicted a shorter duration without psychiatric treatment and more positive views about the necessity of help-seeking. More severe type of diagnoses was associated with shorter durations before accessing care. Our findings underline that mental health awareness programs are clearly required in order to strengthen the early recognition of the need for help- seeking. The development of liaison and outreach activities could also prevent prolonged delays in psychiatric treatment.