Public attitudes with regard to mental illness strongly impact upon whether and how professional help is sought by people affected and are important to understand stigmatisation. Several studies indicate rather negative attitudes among the general population, which, however, may be amenable to change. We undertook a general population survey in four European countries participating in the OSPI project, prior to the intervention. This survey was conducted by means of telephone interviews in a representative sample of 4000 members of the adult general population in both intervention and control regions. The survey comprised the Depression Stigma Scale, the Attitudes toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help, self-reported help seeking, socio-demographic variables and several measures of mental health of subjects and their relatives. We report on baseline attitudes in intervention compared to control regions, the relation between attitudes toward depression and attitudes toward help seeking, the relation between attitudes toward and actual help seeking, and the relation between attitudes, socio-demographic factors, subjects history of depression or suicidal ideation and subjects experience with mental ill-health in relatives.
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