Undergraduate Nursing Students' Attitudes towards Mental Illness: Implications for Specific Academic Education

By Poreddi, Vijayalakshmi; Thimmaiah, Rohini et al. | Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, October-December 2014 | Go to article overview

Undergraduate Nursing Students' Attitudes towards Mental Illness: Implications for Specific Academic Education


Poreddi, Vijayalakshmi, Thimmaiah, Rohini, Pashupu, Dharma, Ramachandra, Badamath, Suresh, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine


Byline: Vijayalakshmi. Poreddi, Rohini. Thimmaiah, Dharma. Pashupu, Ramachandra, Suresh. Badamath

Background: Health care professions are not immune to social prejudices and surprisingly share the general public's attitude attributed to people with mental illness. Nursing students are future health manpower research related to nursing students attitudes toward mental illness is limited. Aim: The aim of this following study is to examine the undergraduate nursing students' attitudes toward people with mental illness. Materials and Methods: Cross-sectional descriptive design was adopted for the present study. A total of 148 undergraduate nursing students were purposively selected to complete self-reported questionnaires. Results: The nursing students have significant positive attitudes towards mental illness in three of the six attitudes factors: Restrictiveness (8.59), benevolence (29.8) and stigmatization (9.18). However, these students have negative attitudes in separatism (27.1), stereotype (11.5) and pessimistic predictions (11.7) domains as they rated high. Conclusion: Academic education in this area must be planned so as to favor the change of the attitudes that include greater use of teaching strategies that challenge beliefs and assumptions and promote a commitment to provide holistic care to people with mental illness.

Introduction

Globally, it is an ongoing concern that the subject of psychiatry, psychiatrists, mental health professionals and the mentally ill patients are affected by the negative prejudices and the cultural stereotypes of the general public. Health care professions are not immune to social prejudices and surprisingly share the general public's attitude attributed to people with mental illness. [sup][1] Nurses play a key role in caring for the mentally ill in sickness and in rehabilitating the mentally ill after an episode of illness. In addition, majority of patients and their families who are seeking help for their mental illness rightfully expect the hospital and nursing staff to be cognisant of their needs and treat them as unique individuals without any prejudice and discrimination. [sup][2],[3] The attitudes and knowledge of the health professionals on mental illness has been argued to be a major determinant of the quality and outcome of care for mentally ill. [sup][4],[5] Unfortunately, the universality of harmful beliefs and subsequent negative attitudes toward mentally ill is not in doubt even among nursing students. Stigma and discrimination are the main obstacles facing the mentally ill today and it is the shame and fear of this discrimination that prevents the mentally ill from seeking help and care for their disorders. On the other hand, the number of people with mental illness is increasing in India.

Students starting the nursing course bring with them stereotypes and prejudice in relation to mentally-ill people, thus showing lack of knowledge as to their possibilities of recovery and social living. Available evidence clearly demonstrates that undergraduate nursing students typically hold unfavorable attitudes toward psychiatric/mental health nursing as a career. [sup][6]

Exploring trends in student nurses attitudes toward mental illness would have implications for nursing practices world-wide. This study was carried out to examine the nursing students' opinion about mental illness for a number of reasons. Nursing students are future health manpower. They will be part of societal development. In order to fulfill their role, they need to be trained in such a way to develop positive attitudes toward needy people. Nurses need to be able to provide mental health education and care with a positive attitude in the community, as community care is the most accessible form of care world-wide. Further, in view of the severe scarcity of mental health personnel, student nurses should develop a positive attitude toward psychiatric nursing and the mentally ill is more critical in Indian scenario. …

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