Clarifying the Concept of Mental Health Literacy: Protocol for a Scoping Review




This scoping review will chart the peer-reviewed literature to clarify the concept of mental health literacy (MHL) and how it can be measured. MHL is an emerging area of study within mental health promotion, as programming and policy efforts devoted to promoting mental health emerge. Enhancing MHL in the general population is a strategy for promoting mental health by reducing stigma and empowering individuals to recognize, interpret, and understand their mental health, and know when to seek help for themselves and others. Despite the positive outcomes associated with MHL, conceptualization varies in scope, purpose, process, and outcome; there is little consensus of what “counts” as MHL. A clearly defined conceptualization of MHL is needed to support research, programming, and policy in mental health promotion. Papers on the theoretical and conceptual principles underlying MHL and primary studies documenting MHL initiatives and methods will be included. A scoping literature search will be performed following the search protocol for scoping reviews by JBI to identify all relevant literature on MHL. Searches will be conducted in five scientific databases; there will be no time limit imposed, although all sources must be written in English or French. Identifying the conceptualization and measurement of MHL in research that is guiding mental health interventions will provide conceptual clarity, ultimately advancing knowledge of mental health literacy.

Author Biographies

Emma Coughlan, Dalhousie University

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University

Lindsay K Heyland, Mount Saint Vincent University

Department of Psychology, MSVU

Taylor G Hill, Dalhousie University

PhD student in Experimental Psychology


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