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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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The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

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 You can view the terms of useat

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