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Depression literacy and help-seeking in Australian police

Reavley, NJ, Milner, AJ, Martin, A ORCID: 0000-0003-0109-1218, Too, LS, Papas, A, Witt, K, Keegel, T and LaMontagne, AD 2018 , 'Depression literacy and help-seeking in Australian police' , Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry , pp. 1-12 , doi: 10.1177/0004867417753550.

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Abstract

Objective: To assess depression literacy, help-seeking and help-offering to others in members of the police force in thestate of Victoria, Australia.Methods:All staff in police stations involved in a cluster randomised controlled trial of an integrated workplace mentalhealth intervention were invited to participate. Survey questions covered sociodemographic and employment information,recognition of depression in a vignette, stigma, treatment beliefs, willingness to assist co-workers with mental healthproblems, help-giving and help-seeking behaviours, and intentions to seek help. Using the baseline dataset associatedwith the trial, the paper presents a descriptive analysis of mental health literacy and helping behaviours, comparing policestation leaders and lower ranks.Results: Respondents were 806 staff, comprising 618 lower-ranked staff and 188 leaders. Almost 84% of respondentswere able to correctly label the problem described in the vignette. Among those who had helped someone with amental health problem, both lower ranks and leaders most commonly reported ‘talking to the person’ although leaderswere more likely to facilitate professional help. Leaders’ willingness to assist the person and confidence in doingso was very high, and over 80% of leaders appropriately rated police psychologists, general practitioners, psychologists,talking to a peer and contacting welfare as helpful. However, among both leaders and lower ranks with mentalhealth problems, the proportion of those unlikely to seek professional help was greater than those who were likelyto seek it.Conclusion: Knowledge about evidence-based interventions for depression was lower in this police sample than surveysin the general population, pointing to the need for education and training to improve mental health literacy. Sucheducation should also aim to overcome barriers to professional help-seeking. Interventions that aim to improve mentalhealth literacy and help-seeking behaviour appear to be suitable targets for better protecting police member mentalhealth.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Reavley, NJ and Milner, AJ and Martin, A and Too, LS and Papas, A and Witt, K and Keegel, T and LaMontagne, AD
Keywords: mental health literacy, depression, police, helping behaviours, stigma
Journal or Publication Title: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Asia
ISSN: 0004-8674
DOI / ID Number: 10.1177/0004867417753550
Copyright Information:

© The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2018

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