The attitudes of health professionals and the general public towards severe mental illness in Cyprus

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE The investigation of the stigmatizing attitudes among the general population and health professionals in Cyprus towards severe mental illness, and proposal of effective measures against stigma. METHOD The study was undertaken on a national basis and included 701 Cypriot civilians and 255 health care professionals, 197 of whom were employed in primary health care and 58 in second-line health care. In order to assess attitudes towards severe mental illness the Attitudes towards Severe Mental Illness (ASMI) questionnaire was used, with a supplementary questionnaire covering socio-economic and demographic characteristics. RESULTS The general population of Cyprus was more stigmatizing against patients with severe mental illness (23.7%) and less optimistic (5.6%) about their abilities, compared with the health care professionals (6.3% και 43.5%, respectively). In addition, the majority of the general population sample (73%) did not believe that mental patients need to seek medical help or to socialize, whereas most of the health professionals (89.4) believed that they should. The general population sample expressed similar opinions (55.1%) to the health professionals (44.7%) regarding the feelings of guilt of patients with mental illness about their illness. CONCLUSIONS Although the attitudes of health care professionals towards severe mental illness were found to be less stigmatizing than those of the general population, it is apparent that the stigma of mental illness is pervasive in Cypriot society. For this reason effective measures need to be taken to help the fight against stigma as part of a national health care plan for the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-547
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Hellenic Medicine
Volume28
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • ASMI
  • Cyprus
  • Severe mental illness
  • Stigma

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