Perceived need for mental health care and barriers to care in the Netherlands and Australia

This study of Australian and Dutch people with anxiety or depressive disorder aims to examine people’s perceived needs and barriers to care, and to identify possible similarities and differences. Data from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being and the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety were combined into one data set. The Perceived Need for Care Questionnaire was taken in both studies. Logistic regression analyses were performed to check if similarities or differences between Australia and the Netherlands could be observed. In both countries, a large proportion had unfulfilled needs and self-reliance was the most frequently named barrier to receive care. People from the Australian sample (N = 372) were more likely to perceive a need for medication (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.3-2.5), counselling (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0-2.0) and practical support (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.2-2.7), and people’s overall needs in Australia were more often fully met compared with those of the Dutch sample (N = 610). Australians were more often pessimistic about the helpfulness of medication (OR 3.8; 95% CI 1.4-10.7) and skills training (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.1-8.2) and reported more often financial barriers for not having received (enough) information (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.1-5.5) or counselling (OR 5.9; 95% CI 2.9-11.9). In both countries, the vast majority of mental health care needs are not fulfilled. Solutions could be found in improving professionals’ skills or better collaboration. Possible explanations for the found differences in perceived need and barriers to care are discussed; these illustrate the value of examining perceived need across nations and suggest substantial commonalities of experience across the two countries

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