Does mental health literacy influence help-seeking behavior in medical students?

Nandini Amithya Pramesi Lumaksono, Pudji Lestari, Azimatul Karimah

Abstract views = 435 times | downloads = 662 times


Introduction: Medical students are experiencing uncertainty in finding the appropriate help for their mental health problems. When they finally decide to seek help, some of them are already in a mental crisis. The suitable indicator for early identification of mental disorder is mental health literacy. Mental health literacy also functions as a tool to decrease stigma towards people with mental illness and to improve help-seeking behavior. The purpose of this study is to determine the influence of mental health literacy to help-seeking behavior and to describe mental health literacy and help-seeking behavior of the medical students.
Methods: The study design was observational analytical. Participants filled demographic data and answered questionnaire via an online file sharing platform. The questionnaires used in this study were Mental Health Literacy Scale (MHLS) and Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Short Form (ATSPPH-SF). The influence of mental health literacy to help-seeking behavior was analyzed using logistic regression analysis.  
Results: The respondents were 60 medical students. No differences of literacy and attitude were found across the admission years. Overall, the students had good literacy and attitude. Students showed lower scores in the MHLS attributes containing ideas about self-treatments, confidentiality, social distance, and reliance on self. Being literate in the total score of MHLS did not influence on having a good attitude in ATSPPH-SF (p=0.303). Only by being literate in attitudes that promote recognition and help-seeking, the students showed a good attitude in ATSPPH-SF (p-value=0.027).  
Conclusion: There was no influence on mental health literacy to help-seeking behavior.


Mental Health Literacy; Help Seeking Behavior; Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Help; Medical Students

Full Text:



Slavin SJ, Schindler DL, Chibnall JT. Medical Student Mental Health 3.0. Acad Med 2014; 89: 573–577.

Pacheco JP, Giacomin HT, Tam WW, et al. Mental health problems among medical students in Brazil: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. Epub ahead of print 2017. DOI: 10.1590/1516-4446-2017-2223.

Kernan WD, Wheat ME. Nursing Students’ Perceptions of the Academic Impact of Various Health Issues. Nurse Educ 2008; 33: 215–219.

Chew-graham CA, Rogers A, Yassin N. ‘ I wouldn ’ t want it on my CV or their records ’: medical students ’ experiences of help-seeking for mental health problems. 2003; 873–880.

Smith S. Breaking Down the Barriers of Stigma : Understanding and Fostering Help-Seeking Behaviors in Medical Students. Arizona State University, 2016.

Wei Y, McGrath PJ, Hayden J, et al. Mental health literacy measures evaluating knowledge, attitudes and help-seeking: a scoping review. BMC Psychiatry 2015; 15: 291.

Hines-Martin V, Yearwood E. Mental Health Literacy. In: Yearwood E, Hines-Martin V (eds) Routledge Handbook of Global Mental Health Nursing: Evidence, Practice and Empowerment. Routledge (2016).

O’Connor M, Casey L. The Mental Health Literacy Scale (MHLS): A new scale-based measure of mental health literacy. Psychiatry Res 2015; 229: 511–516.

Chang T, Chang R. Counseling and the Internet: Asian American and Asian International College Students’ Attitudes Toward Seeking Online Professional Psychological Help. J Coll Couns 2004; 7: 140–149.

Mccarthy JT, Bruno ML, Sherman CA. Exploring the Help-Seeking Attitudes of Graduate Students at an Off-Campus Site. Explor Help Attitudes Grad Students an Off-Campus Site 2010; 44: 208–226.

Arnett JJ. Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. Am Psychol 2000; 55: 469–480.

Lauber C, Ajdacic-Gross V, Fritschi N, et al. Mental health literacy in an educational elite - An online survey among university students. BMC Public Health; 5. Epub ahead of print 2005. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-5-44.

Furnham A, Cook R, Martin N, et al. Mental health literacy among university students. J Public Ment Health 2011; 10: 198–210.

Watson JC. College Student-Athletes’ Attitudes Toward Help-Seeking Behavior and Expectations of Counseling Services. J Coll Stud Dev 2005; 46: 442–449.

Sareen J, Jagdeo A, Cox BJ, et al. Perceived Barriers to Mental Health Service Utilization in the United States, Ontario, and the Netherlands. Psychiatr Serv 2007; 58: 357–364.

Li P, Wong YJ, Toth P. Asian International Students’ Willingness to Seek Counseling: A Mixed-Methods Study. Int J Adv Couns 2013; 35: 1–15.

Pedersen ER, Paves AP. Comparing perceived public stigma and personal stigma of mental health treatment seeking in a young adult sample. Psychiatry Res 2014; 219: 143–150.

Rickwood D. When and how do young people seek professional help. 2007; 187: 35–39.

Cheng HL, Wang C, McDermott RC, et al. Self-Stigma, Mental Health Literacy, and Attitudes Toward Seeking Psychological Help. J Couns Dev 2018; 96: 64–74.

Rickwood D, Deane FP, Wilson CJ, et al. Young people’ s help-seeking for mental health problems. Publication Details. Aust e-Journal Adv Ment Heal 2005; 4: 1–34.

Smith CL, Shochet IM. The Impact of Mental Health Literacy on Help-Seeking Intentions : Results of a Pilot Study with First Year Psychology Students The Impact of Mental Health Literacy on Help- Seeking Intentions : Results of a Pilot Study with First Year Psychology Students. 2011; 37–41.

Connor MO, Casey L. The Mental Health Literacy Scale ( MHLS ): A new scale-based measure of mental health literacy. Psychiatry Res 2015; 229: 511–516.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Biomolecular and Health Science Journal


Creative Commons License

This Journal (E-ISSN:2620-8636) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

View BHSJ Stats