A community's attitudes towards the mentally ill

S L Ng, J L Martin, S E Romans
New Zealand Medical Journal 1995 December 8, 108 (1013): 505-8

AIM: To assess the general community's knowledge of mental illness and personal experience of people with mental illness.

METHOD: Three hundred randomly selected Dunedin residents were surveyed by a postal questionnaire. The instruments used to measure attitudes were a shortened form of the Californian attitudes towards mental illness scale (CAMI scale) and a social distance scale. In addition, questions were asked about the respondent's age, gender, marital status, level of education, their main source of opinion, their experience with the mentally ill, and their beliefs about the causes and types of mental illness.

RESULTS: Having known a person with mental illness facilitates more intimate relationships with people with a mental illness. Sociodemographic variables did not predict attitudes on the CAMI scale. Most respondents who had been in contact with the mentally ill held informed and enlightened views.

CONCLUSION: The community needs and welcomes information on the subject of mental illness and has a positive outlook for the future planning of the rehabilitation of people with mental illness.

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