, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 734-739
Date: 27 Jun 2007

Perception of the public towards the mentally ill in developed Asian country

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Abstract

Objective

This study assessed public perceptions and attitudes towards and causal beliefs about mental health problems in Singapore – a multi-racial country in South-East Asia.

Method

A nation-wide survey using a structured questionnaire was conducted on those aged between 15 and 69 years.

Results

The overall response rate was 68.1% with a total of 2,632 respondents. About 38.3% (95% CI, 36.4–40.2) believed that people with mental health problems were dangerous and 49.6% (95% CI, 47.7–51.5) felt that the public should be protected from them. A negative attitude towards mental health problems correlated with greater age and less education. The Chinese were more likely to want to hide their illness should they become mentally unwell while the Malays seemed to have a more tolerant attitude (= 0.032).

Conclusion

Public awareness and anti-stigma campaigns should focus on those commonly held misconceptions and target specific populations.