• attitudes;
  • depression;
  • mental health literacy;
  • schizophrenia

Objective: A national survey of Australian adults in 1995 showed a low level of recognition of mental disorders and beliefs about treatment that were often discordant with those of professionals. The present study aimed to find out whether recognition and treatment beliefs have changed over 8 years.

Method: A national survey of 2001 adults in 2003–2004 included the same questions as the 1995 survey. These interview questions were based on a vignette of a person with either depression or schizophrenia.

Results: Over the 8 years, the public showed better recognition of depression and schizophrenia and gave more positive ratings to a range of interventions, including help from mental health professionals, medications, psychotherapy and psychiatric ward admission.

Conclusions: The Australian public's beliefs have changed over 8 years to be more like those of mental health professionals. This change may have positive implications for help-seeking and treatment concordance.