Perceived stigma of mental illness: A comparison between two metropolitan cities in India

Aron Zieger, Aditya Mungee, Georg Schomerus, Thi Minh Tam Ta, Michael Dettling, Matthias C Angermeyer, Eric Hahn
Indian Journal of Psychiatry 2016, 58 (4): 432-437

PURPOSE: An increasing number of comparative studies are conducted on the stigmatization of persons with mental illness, in particular with regard to regional and diachronic variation. So far, there have been no studies comparing stigmatization of persons with mental illness in two different regions of India. Therefore, we examined the differences in perception of stigma attached to mental illnesses in Kolkata and Chennai, with regard to cultural and geographical differences to better understand the roots and origins of this issue.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Explorative surveys in the context of public attitudes toward people with mental disorders were conducted among conveniently selected members of the general population in Chennai ( n = 166) and Kolkata ( n = 158) with identical methodology. Link's perceived devaluation-discrimination measure was used. The samples were matched for age, gender, and education.

RESULTS: The calculated sum score indicated that respondents from Kolkata had a higher level of perceived discrimination toward persons with mental illness than respondents from Chennai ( P = 0.043). Furthermore, regression analysis revealed that lower perceived stigma was associated with stronger religious devotion ( P = 0.049) and higher educational attainment ( P = 0.001) in both cities.

DISCUSSION: The results showed that perceived stigma was higher in Kolkata than in Chennai. The correlation of higher stigma with lower education was in line with the previous research, and interestingly, it was found that higher stigma correlated with weaker religious devotion. Further studies exploring a wider variety of factors may provide us with a better understanding of the roots of perceived stigma in India.


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