Stigma of mental illness: An interventional study to reduce its impact in the community

Ramaprasad Dharitri, Suryanarayan N Rao, S Kalyanasundaram
Indian Journal of Psychiatry 2015, 57 (2): 165-73

BACKGROUND: Research literature has documented the nature of stigma associated with mental illness (MI) and its consequences in all spheres of life of ill persons and their families. It is also suggested that there is a need to develop intervention strategies to reduce stigma. However, very little is reported about these initiatives in the Indian context.

AIM: To understand the nature of stigma associated with MI in a rural and semi-urban community in India and to develop an intervention package and study its impact.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study adopted a pre- and post-experimental/action research design with a random sample of community members including persons with chronic MI and their caregivers from rural and semi-urban areas. A semi structured interview schedule was used to assess the nature of stigma. An intervention package, developed on the basis of initial findings, was administered, and two post assessments were carried out.

RESULTS: Stigmatized attitude related to various aspects of MI were endorsed by the respondents. Caregivers had less stigmatizing attitude than the members of the community. Postintervention assessments (PIAs) revealed significant changes in attitudes towards some aspects of MI and this improved attitude was sustained during the second PIA, that is, after 3 months of intervention.

CONCLUSION: People in the rural and semi-urban community have stigmatizing attitude toward MI. Intervention package focusing on the relevant aspect of MI can be used for reducing stigma of MI.

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