Stigma towards mentally ill is highly prevalent in general population and it remains the most serious obstacle to successful interventions. What about the attitudes of mental health care staff? This is an important issue as people with mental illness report that they feel patronised, humiliated and punished while in contact with services. Reviews indicate that beliefs held by mental health providers do not differ from the general public. Does it mean that knowledge and regular contact is not creating positive attitudes? or is it reinforcing the stigma?
Lars Hansson, Henrika Jormfeldt, Petra Svedberg and Bengt Svensson from Sweden investigated (cross sectional study) the beliefs of devaluation and discrimination ( using the 12-item Perceived Devaluation– Discrimination Questionnaire) in a sample of mental health professionals(mostly female nurses working with non psychotic patients) and compared this with sample of patients ( mostly women, 1/2 with mood disorders, 1/3 employed) in contact with mental health outpatient services.
Negative attitudes were predominant among staff, with a majority having a negative attitude in six out of the 12 items and more than one-third in all 12 items.There was no significant difference between staff and patients in the sum score of the scale. Staff in inpatient services held significantly more negative attitudes.Younger staff held more negative beliefs.
Limitations: Response rate from patients was low(60%). Some questions are eliciting the attitudes of general population rather than that held by the person.
Conclusion: Negative attitudes are common among patients and staff. Interventions to address this is essential if we are to succeed in defeating stigma.
Summary of the article:
Mental health professionals’ attitudes towards people with mental illness: Do they differ from attitudes heldby people with mental illness? Hansson L, Jormfeldt H, Svedberg P, Svensson B. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;59(1):48-54