Online Program

Attitudes Toward Mental Illness Treatment in Older Adults 65 and Older : 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Analysis

Monday, November 2, 2015

Joy Oguntimein, MPH, North American Management, Alexandria, VA
Stigma associated with mental illness continues to be a significant barrier to help seeking among older adults. Negative attitudes about mental health treatment may deter individuals who need services from seeking care. This analysis uses 2013 BRFSS data to examine older adults’ attitudes toward mental illness treatment and social support. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were used to assess older adults’ perception of whether "Treatment can help people with mental illness lead normal lives" and "People are generally caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness".  Analyses examined differences by demographic characteristics, depressive disorder diagnosis, and receipt of mental illness treatment. Respondents’ (n=21,023) attitudes regarding treatment effectiveness and a supportive environment for people with mental illness differed by race, income, gender, and educational level. Majority (84%) of older adults agreed treatment can help people live normal lives. Most (56%) older adults agreed people are caring to people with mental illness.  Those with a depressive disorder diagnosis were less likely (OR=.781, CI=.632, .965) to agree with the statement “treatment can help”. Only 76% reported they are receiving mental illness treatment.  Compared to those without, older adults with a depressive disorder were more likely (OR=1.20, CI= 1.08, 1.33) to agree that people are caring to people with mental illness. These data may suggest a need to address social norms about the use and benefits of mental illness treatment.  Previous studies show people’s beliefs and attitudes about mental illness affect whether they seek treatment and support.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Assess attitudes toward mental illness treatment and social support among older adults Compare differences in attitudes among different older adult subgroups

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the health researcher and policy analyst for the National Center for Health and the Aging. My work focuses on enhancing health care delivery for those 65 years of age and older in the United States. Among my interests has been improving not only providers, but the general public's ability to identify and understand signs of mental illnesses.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.