The study aimed to compare the beliefs of health professionals about the potential helpfulness of various mental health interventions with those of the general public.
Surveys were carried out in Australia of 872 general practitioners, 1128 psychiatrists, 454 clinical psychologists and 2031 members of the public. Respondents were presented with a case vignette describing either a person with depression or one with schizophrenia. Respondents were asked to rate the likely helpfulness of various types of professional and nonprofessional help and of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.
The professionals gave much higher ratings than the public to the helpfulness of antidepressants for depression, and of antipsychotics and admission to a psychiatric ward for schizophrenia. Conversely, the public tended to give much more favourable ratings to vitamins and minerals and special diets for both depression and schizophrenia, and to reading self-help books for schizophrenia.
The beliefs that health practitioners hold about mental disorders differ greatly from those of the general public. There is a need for mental health education campaigns to help close the gap between professional and public beliefs.