Depression literacy in Alberta: Findings from a general population sample

Jianli Wang, Carol Adair, Gordon Fick, Wing Leung Lai, Beth Evans, Brenda Waye Perry, Anthony Jorm, Donald Addington

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the public's knowledge about depression, attitudes toward treatments for depression, perceived causal factors for depression, and reported prognoses of depression, overall and by sex. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional telephone survey in Alberta between February and June 2006. We used a random phone number selection procedure to identify a sample of adults in the community (n = 3047). Participants were presented with a vignette describing an individual with depression and then asked questions to assess recognition of depression, attitudes toward mental health treatments, possible causal factors for depression, and prognosis of depression. Results: The response rate was 75.2 %. Among the final participants, 75.6% could correctly recognize depression described in a case vignette. General practitioners or family doctors were considered as being the best help for depression. Of the participants, 35% were in complete agreement with health professionals about appropriate interventions for depression, 28% believed in dealing with depression alone, and 43% thought that "weakness of character" was a likely cause of depression. Men had poorer mental health literacy than women and were more likely to endorse the use of alcohol to cope. Conclusions: Mental health promotion and education efforts are needed to improve the general public's mental health literacy and to clarify misunderstanding about depression. Men need to be a particular target of these efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-449
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • General population
  • Mental health literacy
  • Stigma
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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