Stigma towards mental illness among medical students in Australia and Ghana

Zaza Lyons, Jonathan Laugharne, Richard Laugharne, John Appiah-Poku
Academic Psychiatry 2015, 39 (3): 305-8

OBJECTIVE: Stigma towards mental illness has been found to impact adversely on medical students' attitudes towards psychiatry. This study aimed to assess the impact of stigma among final year students at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, and the University of Western Australia.

METHOD: A 28-item "Attitudes and stigma towards mental health" questionnaire was distributed to final year students at both universities.

RESULTS: There was a significant difference in questionnaire scores, with Australian students showing more positive attitudes towards mental illness and lower levels of stigma compared with Ghanaian students.

CONCLUSION: Stigmatization was expressed by Australian and Ghanaian students. A combination of medical school experiences and wider societal and cultural beliefs could be responsible for students' attitudes towards mental illness. Educators can develop locally relevant anti-stigma teaching resources throughout the psychiatry curriculum to improve students' attitudes towards psychiatry as a discipline and mental illness in general.

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