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Stigmatizing attitudes of Swiss youth towards peers with mental disorders


Dey, Michelle; Paz Castro, Raquel; Jorm, Anthony Francis; Marti, Laurent; Schaub, Michael Patrick; Mackinnon, Andrew (2020). Stigmatizing attitudes of Swiss youth towards peers with mental disorders. PLoS ONE, 15(7):e0235034.

Abstract

Background: Previous research on public stigma towards people with mental disorders has mostly targeted adult samples and focused on depression, schizophrenia or mental disorders in general. Hence, the present study aimed to investigate predictors of stigmatizing attitudes towards different mental disorders (including less researched ones) in a representative sample of adolescents and young adults.
Methods: Data from the Swiss Youth Mental Health Literacy and Stigma Survey were used (analytical sample: n = 4,932). Each participant was randomly presented with one of five vignettes (depression; alcohol abuse; depression and alcohol abuse combined; schizophrenia; social anxiety). The structure of stigmatizing attitudes was assessed using confirmatory factor analysis. Regression models, implemented within a structural equation framework, were used to study predictors for the identified latent variables.
Results: A three-factor model for stigmatizing attitudes-consisting of 'dangerous/unpredictable', 'weak-no-sick', and 'social distance' factors-best fitted the data. Female gender was associated with less stigmatizing attitudes. Associations in opposite directions with different latent factors were found for educational and migration background. Exposure to mental disorders (being personally affected, personally having received professional help or knowing someone close who has received treatment for a mental disorder) was either not or was negatively associated with stigmatizing attitudes. In contrast, current mental health symptoms (heightened levels of psychological distress, problematic alcohol use) were generally not or were positively associated with stigmatizing attitudes. Even though the included predictors had some predictive value, the variance explained by the models was rather small (the adjusted R2 varied between 0.03 and 0.26).
Conclusions: The current study indicates that contact with someone who has received treatment for a mental disorder might be an important component of programs aiming to decrease stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental disorders, since this exposure variable predicted lower levels of stigmatizing attitudes. Furthermore, the findings suggest that target-group interventions for specific subgroups need to be considered, as the process leading to stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental disorders appears to differ between specific sociodemographic subgroups.

Abstract

Background: Previous research on public stigma towards people with mental disorders has mostly targeted adult samples and focused on depression, schizophrenia or mental disorders in general. Hence, the present study aimed to investigate predictors of stigmatizing attitudes towards different mental disorders (including less researched ones) in a representative sample of adolescents and young adults.
Methods: Data from the Swiss Youth Mental Health Literacy and Stigma Survey were used (analytical sample: n = 4,932). Each participant was randomly presented with one of five vignettes (depression; alcohol abuse; depression and alcohol abuse combined; schizophrenia; social anxiety). The structure of stigmatizing attitudes was assessed using confirmatory factor analysis. Regression models, implemented within a structural equation framework, were used to study predictors for the identified latent variables.
Results: A three-factor model for stigmatizing attitudes-consisting of 'dangerous/unpredictable', 'weak-no-sick', and 'social distance' factors-best fitted the data. Female gender was associated with less stigmatizing attitudes. Associations in opposite directions with different latent factors were found for educational and migration background. Exposure to mental disorders (being personally affected, personally having received professional help or knowing someone close who has received treatment for a mental disorder) was either not or was negatively associated with stigmatizing attitudes. In contrast, current mental health symptoms (heightened levels of psychological distress, problematic alcohol use) were generally not or were positively associated with stigmatizing attitudes. Even though the included predictors had some predictive value, the variance explained by the models was rather small (the adjusted R2 varied between 0.03 and 0.26).
Conclusions: The current study indicates that contact with someone who has received treatment for a mental disorder might be an important component of programs aiming to decrease stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental disorders, since this exposure variable predicted lower levels of stigmatizing attitudes. Furthermore, the findings suggest that target-group interventions for specific subgroups need to be considered, as the process leading to stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental disorders appears to differ between specific sociodemographic subgroups.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:24 July 2020
Deposited On:11 Aug 2020 15:53
Last Modified:01 Oct 2020 16:51
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235034
PubMed ID:32706786
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10001C_173235
  • : Project TitleMental health literacy and stigma: a Swiss survey among students in post-mandatory schools

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