Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Help-seeking intentions for anxiety among older adults

Katrina Anderson A B C , Tushara Wickramariyaratne A B and Annaliese Blair A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Southern NSW LHD, Level 3, 34 Lowe Street, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia.

B Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: katrina.anderson1@health.nsw.gov.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 23(5) 489-495 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY15185
Submitted: 2 December 2015  Accepted: 6 February 2017   Published: 18 May 2017

Abstract

Mental health practices are not working for older people with anxiety in residential care, as there is a persistent lack of recognition and treatment. This suggests that alternative ways of reaching and meeting the needs of this population need to be explored. One possibility involves enabling older adults themselves to seek help. The current work explored various factors impacting on help-seeking behaviours. In total, 105 participants from independent living units in a residential care setting completed a questionnaire focusing on attitudes and stigma towards anxiety, likelihood to seek help, help-seeking barriers and literacy around the symptoms of anxiety. Participants in the main did not hold negative attitudes towards other people with anxiety, despite concerns that other people could view them negatively if they were experiencing anxiety. Barriers to help-seeking included: difficulties recognising physical anxiety symptoms as being indicative of anxiety; the effectiveness of treatments; costs; misdiagnosis; privacy; medication usage and the associated side-effects; and, uneasiness about the skills and knowledge of health professionals. Although concerns were not held by all participants, the fact remains that anxiety is largely undiagnosed and untreated for this population and these stoppages to appropriate care must be addressed.

Additional keywords: ageing, mental health, residential care, stigma.


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