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Stigma and Barriers to Mental Health Care

Governments, Organisations, Schools and Support Agencies are all trying to address stigma and barriers to accessing mental health care.  Stigma arises out of negative attitudes, opinions, and stereotypes and may lead to discrimination against anyone with any form of mental illness. It is a key influence on people who seek help and it affects the timeliness of their help-seeking.

In this article, we review research that looks at mental health stigma and barriers to seeking help. It uses, as a case, the habits of first responders. The key barriers to help-seeking by this group were:

  1. Fears regarding confidentiality
  2. Negative impact on their career
  3. Managing help around their job
  4. Not knowing where to seek help

Barriers to care for mental health issues, including not knowing where to seek help, and stigma around mental illness can lead to delayed help-seeking. Failure to seek help, or delaying to seek help, slows the recovery time and can lead to serious events such as suicide.

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