Eating Disorders Literacy: Youth’s Beliefs Related to Mental Health First Aid
Background: One of the community-based interventions for increasing mental health literacy is mental health first aid (MHFA) training. The current study measured literacy regarding MHFA for eating disorders (EDs) among the youth and adolescents.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was performed on those aged 16-29 years in Tehran, Iran. The sample size was 252 individuals. For data gathering, the Mental Health Literacy Questionnaire (MHLQ) was used that was modified for EDs. The validity and reliability of the Persian version of the MHLQ was confirmed. Data were analyzed using SPSS software. To determine the demographic variables that can predict participants' literacy concerning EDs, logistic regression analysis was used.
Results: Among the participants, 11.5 could successfully diagnose EDs, 34.5 were not at all confident in their ability to help, and 36.95 said they would not seek help if faced with a similar problem. Most of the participants selected “obtaining more information about the problems described in the vignette and available services” and “listening to the problems of the vignette character in an understanding way” as the correct first aid interventions. Family and friends were mentioned as the main influential people. Higher education could significantly predict the ability to correctly diagnose the disorder (P = 0.03) and help-seeking behavior (P = 0.002). Only relatives' history of exposure to the problems described in the vignette could significantly predict higher scores in diagnosing suitable first aid (P = 0.02).
Conclusion: In general, mental health literacy regarding EDs was not suitable among the participants of this study. Thus, it seems necessary to consider targeted MHFA training, particularly in the field of EDs, to provide training in an understandable language to the community and with emphasis on seeking professional services.
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