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Keywords:

  • Ageing;
  • help-seeking;
  • medication;
  • qualitative methods;
  • service utilisation;
  • stigma

Abstract

This qualitative study examined mature adults' attitudes to mental health services, in order to improve service utilisation among members of this group. Twenty individual and 12 focus group interviews were conducted with 111 West Australians aged ≥40 years living in urban and regional areas. The findings indicate that mature individuals may be receptive to information that assists them in differentiating the symptoms of ageing and mental illness and empowers them to make appropriate help-seeking decisions. Perceived stigma and an aversion to medication were identified as barriers preventing individuals from acknowledging and addressing mental illness. A model of mature adults' intentions to utilise mental health services is proposed.