• anxiety disorders;
  • depression;
  • health services needs;
  • demand

Objective:  The objective of this study was to investigate help-seeking behaviour among persons with anxiety disorder and depression based on self-rating in a Norwegian population (the HUNT study).

Method:  Of the 92 100 inhabitants aged 20–89 years invited, 65 648 (71.3%) took part. Among them 60 869 (66.1%) persons delivered valid ratings on hospital anxiety and depression scale, and had answered the requested help for mental problems question.

Results:  Among HUNT attenders 13% of those with depression and 25% with anxiety disorders had been help seekers. Help seeking was only non-significantly associated with demographic or other variables.

Conclusion:  Most persons with anxiety disorder and/or depression in the population had not sought help for their mental disorders, but the disparity between use and need of health service must not be overassessed. Improvement of the help-seeking rate for common mental disorder should have high priority in mental health politics.