Mental health literacy and the anxiety disorders


Context: This study set out to investigate the mental health literacy (MHL) about eight anxiety disorders (ADs), using vignette methodology. Methods: In all 317 British Adult participants completed a questionnaire with vignettes describing eight anxiety disorders including OCD, PTSD, Agoraphobia, Specific Phobias, Social Phobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, GAD and Panic Disorder. Recognition, beliefs about treatments and perceived life adjustment (happiness, success at work) of specific people with these disorders were assessed. Results: Literacy levels varied across anxiety disorders, with high recognition of OCD (64.67%), but very poor for panic disorder (1.26%), GAD (2.84%) and separation anxiety disorder (5.99%). There were few significant effects of vignette gender on literacy levels. MHL for most anxiety disorders was relatively low; particularly panic disorder, GAD and separation anxiety disorder. Social Phobics were judged as least happy and adjusted and agoraphobics least successful at work and would benefit most from psychological help. Conclusions: Overall recognition of the anxiety disorders was poor. Beliefs about adjustment and treatment varied widely as a function of each disorder. Implications of the research for education of the public and limitations of this research are considered.

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Furnham, A. and Lousley, C. (2013) Mental health literacy and the anxiety disorders. Health, 5, 521-531. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.53A071.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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