Intensions Consulting: Mental Health Literacy

The study, which surveyed 901 English-speaking Canadian adults, found a number of gaps in men's depression literacy, with over a third of Canadian adults (38%) incorrectly believing that having several distinct personalities may be a sign of men’s depression, and almost a quarter of Canadian adults (23%) incorrectly believing that men with depression often speak in a rambling and disjointed way.
"These findings highlight some significant misconceptions and literacy gaps around men's mental health" says Nick Black, Managing Partner at Intensions Consulting and one of the study co-authors. "Among Canadian adults, there appears to be some confusion between depressive symptoms and the symptoms associated with other mental illnesses."

On the topic of men's suicide a similar lack of literacy was found, with a third of Canadian adults (33%) incorrectly believing that men talking about suicide always increases the risk of suicide, and almost a quarter of Canadian adults (23%) incorrectly disbelieving that men who want to attempt suicide can change their mind quickly.
"Misconceptions about men talking about suicide increasing their risk for suicide invokes silences and stigma around men’s mental illness" says John Oliffe, Professor at the University of British Columbia and the lead investigator at Men’s Health Research. "Flowing from that, men with suicidal thoughts don’t feel safe to express what they are experiencing – and potential helpers tend to avoid such conversations fearing they might inadvertently trigger the man’s self-harm.”

Given the evidence that mental health knowledge can increase with education, which in turn reduces stigma and improves help-seeking behavior, the study concluded that more concerted efforts are needed to advance public literacy on the topics of men’s depression and suicide.


These are the findings of an Intensions Consulting study conducted between August 29, 2014 and September 11, 2014 on behalf of Men’s Health Research at the University of British Columbia. For this study, an online survey was administered with a sample of 901 English-speaking Canadian adults between the ages of 18 and 83. The sample was stratified and weightings were employed to balance demographics, ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the targeted Canadian population according to Census data, and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A traditional unweighted probability sample of this size would produce results considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For a full copy of the published study and data tabulations, click here.