Mental health literacy, treatment preferences and the lived experience of mental health problems in an Australian cancer sample

Maria Kangas*, Andreas Heissel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The prevalence rates for mental health (MH) problems in cancer patients is high, although reduced uptake of services may be influenced by mental health literacy (MHL). The objective of this study was to investigate the MHL for depression and panic disorder (PD), including treatment preferences in Australian adults who had been diagnosed and treated for cancer, and whether MHL and treatment preferences was influenced by sex, age, and individuals' lived MH experience. Method: A total of 421 cancer survivors (n = 378 females) completed a self-report survey. Participants were asked to specify whether they had a lived experience with anxiety and/or depression, and to indicate treatment preferences for managing cancer-related distress. Two vignettes were administered to assess MHL for depression and PD. Results: The MHL accuracy for depression was higher than PD. Accuracy rates were higher for females with a lived experience with anxiety and/or depression; although the accuracy rate for PD was significantly lower in males. A high proportion of individuals preferred exercise and in-person counselling to manage depression and PD. Internet-based therapies were not strongly preferred for managing MH problems. Conclusions: The MHL for depression and PD is moderate for adult cancer survivors, with higher levels indicated for individuals with a personal lived experience with anxiety and/or depression. Public health campaigns for enhancing MHL should broaden to include individuals experiencing comorbid physical health conditions. Health providers also need to take into account client preferences for evidence-based therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1883-1894
Number of pages12
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • anxiety
  • cancer
  • exercise
  • major depression
  • mental health
  • preferences
  • psycho-oncology
  • treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Mental health literacy, treatment preferences and the lived experience of mental health problems in an Australian cancer sample'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this