Mental Health Literacy
Health literacy means the ability to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways that promote and maintain good health. Mental health literacy refers to the knowledge, beliefs, and abilities that support the prevention, recognition, and / or management of mental health and substance use challenges. Specifically, mental health literacy includes:
- The ability to recognize specific disorders, including substance use issues
- Knowing how to seek information about mental health and substance use challenges
- Knowledge of risk factors and causes of mental health and substance use issues, self-care techniques, and professional help available
- Attitudes that promote recognition and appropriate help-seeking
A high public level of mental health literacy would make early identification and appropriate intervention for mental health and substance use challenges more likely. Mental health literacy is also important for reducing stigma – an issue that can prevent help-seeking and promote discrimination against people identified as having a mental health or substance use disorder.
The Mental Health Literacy portfolio of the BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services agency is guided by the Integrated Strategy to Promote Health Literacy in Mental Health and Addiction in BC. The portfolio aims to enhance the mental health literacy of children, youth and families across British Columbia (BC) through a number of initiatives across a range of settings and channels. These initiatives include:
- Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders Mental Health Literacy Initiatives, which aim to enhance health literacy in the areas of eating disorders and disordered eating;
- Cross-Cultural Mental Health Literacy Initiatives, which aim to enhance mental health literacy among culturally and linguistically diverse families;
- and Mental Health Literacy School-Based Initiatives, which aim to further develop the mental health literacy of educators across BC to support the mental health of children and youth in school environments.
In addition, the Provincial Child and Youth Healthy Living Initiative aims to improve healthy lifestyle behaviours among children, youth and their families who deal with mental health and substance use challenges throughout BC. The Mental Health Literacy portfolio also includes the management of a number of provincial networks that aim to support knowledge exchange across the province. The Mental Health Literacy team works in collaboration with the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre on a number of resources, initiatives and events. Resources developed by the Mental Health Literacy team are available on the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre website.
Featured Mental Health Literacy Resources (examples only)
- Healthy Living Toolkits
- Eating Disorders Meal Support Video
- Patient & Family Guide to Second-Generation Antipsychotics
- Families, Together: Supporting the Mental Well-being of Children and Youth
Health Literacy Resources