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Recognition and Stigma in Depression and Anxiety

Combating mental health issues requires recognizing problems such as anxiety or depression as treatable conditions, but lack of knowledge and stigma often reduce the number of afflicted who seek treatment.  To better understand the roles of communities versus individuals as impediments to treating poor mental health we analyze primary data from two parallel national surveys.  The survey data were supplemented with data about each respondent’s county.  Our results show that males are less likely to recognize depression or anxiety than females, while respondents who knew someone with the condition tended to identify it correctly.  The majority of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with statements indicating stigma about the condition in question.  In regressions exploring variables associated with stigma, respondents’ ability to correctly identify the condition was the most powerful explanatory variable. Educating individuals about the condition is important not only for getting sufferers help early, when treatment is easier, but also for the acceptance of sufferers in broader society.  Our findings also suggest that paying more attention to the role of the professional in educating the public might be an approach to achieving higher recognition rates. 

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit extension.org. You can view the terms of useat extension.org/terms.

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