WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A social marketing campaign in California designed to reduce stigma about mental health issues appears to have encouraged more people to seek care for their symptoms of mental distress, according to a study published online June 26 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Rebecca L. Collins, Ph.D., from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues surveyed 1,954 California adults experiencing symptoms of probable mental illness in 2014 and 2016 during a major stigma reduction campaign.

The researchers found that campaign exposure predicted treatment use overall (odds ratio [OR], 1.82; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.17 to 2.83). Exposure to the campaign was associated with perceived need for services (OR, 1.64; 95 percent CI, 1.09 to 2.47) but was not significantly associated with treatment use in models based on perceiving a need (OR, 1.52; 95 percent CI, 0.78 to 2.96). While campaign exposure was associated with less stigma, adjusting for stigma did not affect associations between exposure and either perceived need or treatment use.

“Social marketing has potential for addressing underuse of mental health services and may benefit from an increased focus on perceived need,” the authors write.

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