Mental health literacy (MHL) is rarely reported in the Chinese elderly. This study explored the pattern of MHL in the Chinese elderly in relation to depression, anxiety and poor sleep quality.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among older adults in Guangzhou, south China. Participants were investigated face-to-face using the Chinese National Mental Health Literacy Scale, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 item (PHQ-9), the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Mental Health Literacy Scale contains three dimensions: mental health knowledge, mental health skills (such as social support, cognitive reappraisal and attentional distraction) and mental health awareness. Multivariate logistic regression was used for examining the association between MHL and mental health.
A total of 506 older adults were recruited. The percentage of depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality were 16.6%, 7.9% and 40.9%, respectively. MHL dimensions independently associated with depression included cognitive reappraisal (OR = 1.95, p < .001), attentional distraction (OR = 0.61, p = 0.044) and awareness (OR = 0.56, p = 0.027). MHL dimensions independently associated with anxiety symptoms included cognitive reappraisal (OR = 1.90, p = 0.011) and attentional distraction (OR = 0.44, p = 0.016). MHL dimensions independently associated with poor sleep quality included social support (OR = 0.75, p = 0.022), cognitive reappraisal (OR = 1.55, p = 0.003) and attentional distraction (OR = 0.65, p = 0.016).
Given the low MHL and its association with poor mental health in the Chinese elderly, policymakers and health professionals should improve the older adults’ MHL, which could be conducive to the prevention and control of their mental health problems.