Background: The existing literature on community attitudes towards people with severe mental illness (SMI) tends to be rather general and impressionistic, with apparently conflicting findings which have yet to be adequately understood. Aims: This article undertakes to examine the community's level of tolerance towards discriminatory practice against people with SMI in three domains: family relations, employment and health care. Methods: Structured interviews with a representative sample of 507 citizens were carried out using the computer-assisted telephone interview system (CATI). Results: Our survey reveals some expected common misunderstandings about mental illness, with the older age group showing the greatest toleration towards discrimination. However, respondents showed a strong objection to discriminatory behaviour which people with SMI commonly face in health care and employment, whereas greater toleration towards discrimination was found in the family domain. Conclusions: The coexistence of misunderstandings about mental illness and public rejection of discriminatory practice against people with SMI suggests that community attitudes are multi-dimensional and more amendable than expected. The findings of this study call for target-specific educational strategies for community education, as well as accompanying policy initiatives to end discriminatory practice, if people with SMI are to be truly taken as our fellow citizens.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||International Journal of Social Psychiatry|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2007|
Scopus Subject Areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Public attitude