Public Stigma against People with Mental Illness in Jimma Town, Southwest Ethiopia

Yared Reta, Markos Tesfaye, Eshetu Girma, Sandra Dehning, Kristina Adorjan
PloS One 2016, 11 (11): e0163103

BACKGROUND: Stigma towards people with mental illness (PWMI) can result in low self-esteem and isolation and threaten employment. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the magnitude of public stigma against PWMI and factors associated with it among Jimma town residents.

METHODS: A community-based, cross-sectional, descriptive study was conducted in adult residents of Jimma town. Data were collected among 820 randomly selected residents with the interviewer-administered Community Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill (CAMI) scale. Linear regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of stigma against PWMI.

RESULT: A total of 444 (54%) of the 820 respondents were females, and the mean (SD) age was 35 (8.5) years. The minimum and maximum possible values on each CAMI subscale were 10 and 50, respectively. The respondents had high scores for a stigmatizing attitude towards PWMI across all the subscales, as indicated by the mean (SD) scores: authoritarianism, 27.17 (4.96); social restrictiveness, 32.41 (4.20); benevolence, 35.34 (4.42); and community-based mental health ideology, 33.95 (5.82). Compared to housewives, private organization employees showed more autocratic and socially restrictive views (std. β = 1.12, P<0.01). Single people had a lower social restrictiveness stigma score than married people (std. β = -0.20, P<0.001), and participants' academic levels correlated inversely with the stigma score (std. β = -0.12, P<0.001). A higher benevolence stigma score was observed among participants with no relationship with PWMI than among those with PWMI in their neighborhood (std. β = 0.08, P< 0.046).

CONCLUSION: The study revealed that a negative attitude towards PWMI is widespread. Therefore, there is a need to develop strategies to fight the stigma attached to PWMI at the community level.

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