Methods: Employing a convenience cross-sectional sampling strategy, 500 participants were recruited in public areas throughout the Shanghai metropolitan, China between April 2018 and July 2018. This cross-sectional survey administered in Mandarin was comprised of demographic, background characteristics, and standardized measures (e.g., Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale, Stigma Concerns about Mental Health Care Scale, Devaluation of Consumer Families Scale). Analyses were performed with R 4.0.3, using the lavaan package for structural equation modeling (SEM).
Results: The mean age of participants was 37. 9 years (SD = 14.2) and 53% were female. Approximately 52% of respondents had some exposure to individuals with mental health problems. Fit of the final structural regression model was good: χ_(Yuan-Bentler)^2 (201) = 210.190, p = .314; CFI = .989, TLI = .988, RMSEA = 0.014, 90% CI [0.000, 0.031], SRMR = .049. The model explained 12% and 4% of the variance in openness to help-seeking among males and females respectively. After controlling for other predictors, participants who had been exposed to MHP (i.e., anyone, friend, family, or self) expressed more open attitudes toward seeking psychological help (a predicted 0.386 SD unit increase in help-seeking openness).
Conclusions: In China, fewer than 10% of individuals with mental health problems seek out professional treatment. The current study investigated mental health help-seeking behavior in a community sample in Shanghai, China. Findings indicate that beliefs about seeking professional help for mental health are influenced by knowing someone with a mental health problem. In addition, males who were older, had a child, and were married endorsed more openness to help-seeking for mental health needs, underscoring the importance of life experience as an important variable when considering attitudes toward help-seeking. Findings support future research identifying the mechanisms by which these life experiences impact individuals’ help-seeking attitudes. Moreover, further research may benefit from identifying the mechanisms by which these life experiences impact individuals’ help-seeking attitudes. Continued research on mental health in China is essential to better understand points of effective intervention that are evidence-based and culturally responsive. Future clinical and research implications for social work practice will be explored within Chinese communities.