Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 292–302 | Cite as

Attitudes Toward Community Mental Health Care: The Contact Paradox Revisited

  • E. PattynEmail author
  • M. Verhaeghe
  • P. Bracke
Original Paper


Contact with people with mental illness is considered to be a promising strategy to change stigmatizing attitudes. This study examines the underlying mechanisms of the association between contact and attitudes toward community mental health care. Data are derived from the 2009 survey “Stigma in a Global Context—Belgian Mental Health Study”, using the Community Mental Health Ideology-scale. Results show that people who received mental health treatment themselves or have a family member who has been treated for mental health problems report more tolerant attitudes toward community mental health care than people with public contact with people with mental illness. Besides, the perception of the effectiveness of the treatment seems to matter too. Furthermore, emotions arising from public contact are associated with attitudes toward community mental health care. The degree of intimacy and the characteristics of the contact relationship clarify the association between contact and attitudes toward community mental health care.


Mental illness Attitudes Contact Deinstitutionalization Community mental health care 



We wish to thank Bernice Pescosolido for the opportunity to collaborate on this project. This project was supported by a grant from the Research Foundation (FWO) Flanders and from the Special Research Fund of Ghent University (BOF).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HeDeRa (Health and Demographic Research), Department of SociologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Katho University CollegeKortrijkBelgium

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