Sex differences in beliefs and attitudes towards mental illness: An examination of mental health literacy in a community sample

Background: The current study investigated mental health literacy in an Australian sample to examine the influence sex has in the identification of and attitudes towards various aspects of mental illness. Methods: An online questionnaire was completed by 373 participants (267 female, M = 34.87). Participants were randomly assigned a vignette depicting an individual exhibiting the symptoms of one of three types of mental illness and asked to answer questions relating to aspects of mental health literacy. Results: Males exhibited poorer mental health literacy skills compared to females. Males were less likely to correctly identify the type of mental illness, more likely to rate symptoms as less serious and to perceive the individual as having greater personal control over such symptoms. Conclusions: Generally, the sample was relatively proficient at correctly identifying mental illness but overall males displayed poorer mental health literacy skills than females. (Abstract from published manuscript