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Purpose: We aimed to investigate mental health help-seeking intentions and preferences of rural Chinese adults and determine predictors of the intentions.

Methods: A total of 2052 representative rural residents aged 18-60 completed a cross-sectional survey by face-to-face interviews. The survey included seven questions asking about respondents' help-seeking intentions and preferences, and a series of internationally validated instruments to assess self-perceived health status, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, mental health literacy, and attitudes towards mental illness.

Results: Nearly 80% of respondents were willing to seek psychological help if needed, and 72.4% preferred to get help from medical organizations, yet only 12% knew of any hospitals or clinics providing such help. A multivariate analysis of help-seeking intention revealed that being female, having lower education, higher social health, higher mental health knowledge, and physical causal attribution for depression were positive predictors of help-seeking intention.

Conclusion: A huge gap exists between the relatively higher intention for help-seeking and significantly lower knowledge of helpful resources. Predictors of help-seeking intention for mental problems in the current study are consistent with previous studies. Interventions to increase help-seeking for mental problems by Chinese rural adults may be best served by focusing on increasing public awareness of help sources, as well as improving residents' mental health literacy and social health, with special focus on males and those more educated.


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