University of Tasmania
Beckley_whole_thesis.pdf (5.04 MB)

Barriers to psychological treatment for mental illness among people who use illicit drugs

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posted on 2023-05-27, 23:45 authored by Beckley, RA
The connection between illicit drug use and mental health is well understood, however, individuals who use illicit drugs seek professional help for their mental health at a lower rate than the general population. The aims of this study were to identify if people who use illicit drugs seek psychological help and subsequently explore the barriers experienced. The outcomes of the study were then used to provide recommendations to psychological services to improve access and satisfaction. Australians (n=140) aged 18 or above, all who had used an illicit drug in the past 12 months and reported concerns about their mental health completed an online survey addressing their experiences with psychological services and the aspects of psychological services that they were satisfied with or dissatisfied with. Participants responded to a series of statements addressing barriers to seeking and accessing psychological services and recommendations to assist in improving them. Survey results were analysed using descriptive statistics. Respondents identified that structural barriers of cost and availability were the most problematic. This was followed by personal barriers including mental health preventing attendance, previous poor experiences and perceived judgements of psychologists. In addition, participants reported feeling stigmatised due to their illicit drug use. Findings indicate the need for increasing education of psychologists regarding illicit drugs and the interaction with mental health problems or symptoms. Further, findings suggest recommendations for increasing education for people who use illicit drugs about psychology and psychotherapy, specifically informed consent, confidentiality, and the differences between mental health providers.


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