Mental health literacy (MHL) refers to an individuals’ knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders that aid their recognition, management, and prevention. This study aims to investigate the MHL of depression among public health and sociology undergraduate students in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A cross-sectional survey was carried out from May to September 2015. Data was collected using an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire distributed to 350 undergraduate students (213 public health majors; 137 sociology majors). Questions about MHL of depression were adapted from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health Literacy and Stigma. Question topics included recognition of depression, help-seeking intentions, first-aid support, and knowledge about interventions to help people with depression. Chi squared tests were conducted to compare proportional statistics across groups for multiple measures.
With regard to recognition of mental disorders, 32.0% of the respondents used the accurate label “depression” for the vignette. Among those who correctly identified depression, 82.1% would seek help. The corresponding statistic was 81.1% from those who did not recognize depression. Both groups would seek help from counselor, psychologist, family members, and close friends. First-aid support suggested by the respondents in both groups were informal sources (to listen to her problem in an understanding way, to encourage her to be more physically active, etc.). The interventions considered most helpful by the respondents were self-help strategies such as learning how to relax, getting physically active, doing exercise early in the morning, and reading a self-help book. Joining a group of individuals with similar problems was chosen to be a helpful intervention among those who did not recognize depression (p < 0.001), but those who correctly identify depression believed that people with depression should be admitted to hospital for psychiatric treatment (p < 0.05).
There is a need for education about MHL of depression among undergraduate students in Vietnam. The training can focus on symptoms of depression, appropriate help-seeking intentions, and first-aid support relevant to the Vietnamese context.