An Investigation of Attitudes Towards Adults with Mental Illness Among Mental Health Professionals In-training, Non Mental Health Professionals In-training, Mental Health Professionals, and Non Mental Health Professionals

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Allison L. Smith (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Cashwell

Abstract: Stigma towards adults with mental illness is both a longstanding and widespread phenomenon. Unfortunately, stigma towards adults with mental illness originates not only from the general population, but also from mental health professionals. There remain mixed ideas about the causes of stigmatization from mental health professionals and what factors might reduce this stigma. Some have suggested that increased contact and experience with adults with mental illness might help with shifting negative attitudes. Others have noted that education and training about mental illness might reduce stigma. Since early research on stigma and mental health professionals, professional counselors have emerged as a type of mental health professional often working with adults with mental illness. Researchers who have examined mental illness stigma among mental health professionals, however, have primarily studied those in medical, occupational therapy, and case management fields or have studied samples obtained outside of the United States. In addition, aspects of professionalism and professional development, such as licensure status and clinical supervision, have not previously been explored empirically. This study explored differences between mental health professionals in-training, non mental health professionals in-training, mental health professionals, and non mental health professionals. Factors such as professional orientation, licensure, supervision status, and length of time in the mental health field were examined as they related to attitudes towards mental illness. Social distance attitudes were explored in order to investigate social distance as it related to attitudes towards adults with mental illness. A total sample of 188 participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Community Attitudes Toward the Mentally Ill, a Social Distance Scale, and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale. A 2-way MANOVA revealed that mental health trainees and professionals had less stigmatizing attitudes towards adults with mental illness than non mental health trainees and professionals. Professional orientation, however, had no significant effect on attitudes. A MANOVA revealed that professionals who were receiving clinical supervision had higher mean scores on the Benevolence subscale than professionals who were not receiving clinical supervision. A Multivariate Multiple Regression revealed that receiving clinical supervision accounted for a significant portion of the variance on the Benevolence subscale. A Pearson-Product Moment Correlation revealed a significant relationship between social distance and attitudes towards adults with mental illness.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
attitudes, stigma, adults, mental illness, general population, mental health professionals, contact, training, education, Community Attitudes Toward the Mentally Ill, Social Distance Scale, Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, 2-way MANOVA, Multivariate Multiple Regression, Pearson-Product Moment Correlation
Mental illness $x Public opinion.
Stigma (Social psychology).
Mental health personnel $x Education.
Mental health personnel $x Attitudes.

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