Stigma Keeps Many from Mental Health Help

LOS ANGELES, July 29 (UPI) — About 20 percent of residents of California report a need for mental health services, while one in 25 report serious psychological distress, researchers found.

Lead author David Grant, director of the California Health Interview Survey at the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research, says among adults with a “perceived need” for mental health services, or who report serious psychological distress, only one-third reported visiting a mental health professional for treatment. The reluctance was most likely attributable to fear of stigmatization, as well as lack of insurance coverage.

“There’s a lot of need, but also a lot of obstacles connecting those in need to the services that can help them,” Grant said in a statement. “Part of the problem may be stigma. It’s hard for many Californians to acknowledge they need help — to their family, friends or their doctor. The challenge for policymakers and providers is to both target appropriate services to those with needs and to reduce fear.”

Grant said since the data were collected, the state has suffered an economic downturn and the recession has created even more stress for people, so the study is probably an underestimate of the true level of mental health need in California currently.

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