Mental health training program for community mental health staff in Guangzhou, China: effects on knowledge of mental illness and stigma

Jie Li, Juan Li, Yuanguang Huang, Graham Thornicroft
International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2014, 8 (1): 49

BACKGROUND: In order to reduce the huge treatment gap in mental health, WHO has called for integrating mental health into primary care. The purposes of this study are to provide a training course to improve the community mental health staff's knowledge of mental health and reduce stigma related to mental illness, as well as to evaluate the impact of this training on knowledge and stigma.

METHODS: The training intervention was a one day course for community mental health staff in Guangzhou, China. Evaluation questionnaires were given before and after the training session. Mental health knowledge was assessed using two vignettes. Stigma was evaluated by the Mental Illness: Clinicians' Attitudes Scale (MICA) and the Reported and Intended Behavior Scale (RIBS).

RESULTS: A total of 99 community mental health staff from eight regions in Guangzhou, China were recruited for the study. The training course did not lead to a significant improvement of participants' levels of mental health knowledge. The mean score of MICA decreased from 47.92 ± 8.63 to 43.53 ± 9.61 after the training (t = 6.64, P < 0.001). As for the RIBS, the mean scores increased from (14.12 ± 3.90) to (15.38 ± 3.41) at post-test (t = -5.44, P < 0.001), indicating a significant improvement.

CONCLUSIONS: The results from this study show that the training course is an effective way to improve community mental health staff's attitudes toward people with mental illness in the short term, as well as to lessen the social distance between staff and people with mental illness.

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