The role of mental health literacy in mental health care in public housing settings
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Mental health literacy is a critical factor associated with mental health care. It may facilitate people to seek professional mental health care or help others with mental illness in accessing mental health care. Many people are unlikely to seek professional mental health care at an early stage of mental illness. In public housing settings that are staffed by non-mental health professionals, mental health literacy is important to promote mental health care. Yet, few studies in the U.S. examine the role of mental health literacy in seeking mental health care or helping others with mental illness to receive care, particularly in public housing settings that serve people at greater risk for mental illness. Moreover, there is a need for a comprehensive mental health literacy measure to build rigorous mental health literacy research. This three article dissertation aims to advance current knowledge in mental health literacy research in the U.S. by focusing on three areas. The first article described the process of developing a mental health literacy measure that represents multiple components of mental health literacy and assessing its’ psychometric properties. The second and third articles examined the way in which mental health literacy influences attitudes toward mental health help-seeking and confidence of helping others with mental illness among public housing employees. Findings suggest that a newly developed multidimensional measure of mental health literacy is reliable and valid. People with a high level of mental health literacy are likely to have favorable attitudes toward mental health help-seeking. They are also likely to feel familiar with mental illness, which in turn increases confidence in helping others with mental illness. This dissertation introduces a reliable and valid tool for future mental health literacy research and highlights the need for mental health education in community settings.
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