Publication Details

Mackenzie, C. S., Erickson, J., Deane, F. P. & Wright, M. (2014). Changes in attitudes toward seeking mental health services: A 40-year cross-temporal meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 34 (2), 99-106.


Although rates of treatment seeking for mental health problems are increasing, this increase is driven primarily by antidepressant medication use, and a majority of individuals with mental health problems remain untreated. Helpseeking attitudes are thought to be a key barrier to mental health service use, although little is known about whether such attitudes have changed over time. Research on this topic is mixed with respect to whether helpseeking attitudes have become more or less positive. The aim of the current study was to help clarify this issue using a cross-temporal meta-analysis of scores on Fischer and Turner's (1970) helpseeking attitude measure among university students (N= 6796) from 1968 to 2008. Results indicated that attitudes have become increasingly negative over time, r(44) = - 0.53, p< 0.01, with even stronger negative results when the data are weighted (w) for sample size and study variance, r(44) = - 0.63, p< .001. This disconcerting finding may reflect the greater emphasis of Fischer and Turner's scale toward helpseeking for psychotherapy. Such attitudes may be increasingly negative as a result of the unintended negative effects of efforts in recent decades to reduce stigma and market biological therapies by medicalizing mental health problems.



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