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Community and population-based interventions to reduce stigma associated with depression, anxiety and suicide: a rapid review

An Evidence Check review brokered by the Sax Institute for beyondblue and funded through donations from The Movember Foundation.
Mental depression Stigmatization Suicide Anxiety Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
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The 2007 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB) estimated the 12-month prevalence rate for anxiety disorders to be 14.4% (10.8% in males and 17.9% in females), while the rate for affective disorders (depression, dysthymia, bipolar affective disorder) was estimated to be 6.2% (5.3% in males and 7.1% in females).

In Australia in 2011, there were 2,273 deaths from suicide. People with depression and anxiety disorders must cope with their symptoms and also with stigma and discrimination. Stigma is complex, has many components and varies according to disorder. The 2011 National Survey of Mental Health Literacy and Stigma assessed attitudes to a range of mental disorders including depression, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Results revealed that stigma perceived in others (perceived stigma) was greater than personally-held attitudes (personal stigma). Desire for social distance was most common for the items relating to working closely with a person with depression or an anxiety disorder (PTSD or social phobia) or having the person marry into one’s family. The aim of this review is to examine the evidence of effectiveness of community and population-based interventions to reduce stigma associated with depression, anxiety and suicide.

Interventions to review were identified by searching PubMed, PsycInfo, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and grey literature. The interventions reviewed were limited to those which specifically targeted depression and anxiety disorders, or which targeted mental illness more broadly but included an assessment of changes in stigmatising attitudes towards depression, anxiety disorders or suicide.

Resulting interventions were divided into subcategories according to the target population (national or regional community campaigns or individuals within particular population groups, such as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities), the mode of delivery (in-person or web-based) and the intervention setting (workplaces, schools).

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