An exploration of nurse's attitudes towards common mental illness.
James, Charlene Natasha.
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Globally the importance of mental illness can be improved by mainstreaming the services that are provided by primary healthcare facilities. In hospitals and primary healthcare facilities, majority of healthcare professionals being nurses‟; contribute towards several experiences that peoples face with a mental illness. Stigma and discrimination have been cited leading cause of mentally ill patients not seeking help, and that the negative attitudes of healthcare workers directly contribute to this (Al-Awadhi, Atawneh, Alayan, Shahid, Al-Alkhadhari, & Zahid, 2017). It has been established in previous literature that there is a relationship between the knowledge people have about mental illness and the attitudes they hold towards it (Mavundla & Uys, 1997). Studies have also found that when healthcare staff holds negative attitudes towards mental illness, it impacts on the care that they provide (Aruna, Mittal, Yadiyal, Archarya, Acharya, & Uppulari, 2016).In light of the call for integrated mental health care to be provided at Primary health care facilities, it is important to establish what (if any) attitudes nurses hold towards those with common mental disorders. In addition, it is important to understand how their knowledge on mental health and perceptions influences these attitudinal dispositions. Stigma has been defined as 1) differentiation and labelling of various segments of society; 2) linking the labelling of different social demographics to prejudices about these individuals; 3) the development of an us-versus-them ethic; and 4) disadvantaging the people who are labelled and placed in the “them” category (Link & Phelan, 2001). Therefore, when a person is labelled due to their mental illness, they are no longer seen an individual beings but as part of a stereotype group. Due to the negative attitudes and beliefs that is created towards this group, leads to negative actions and discrimination (Creating a mentally healthy community, 2009). Negative attitudes, perception, stigma and discrimination towards people living with mental illness and towards mental illness are a major issue to provide effective mental healthcare facilities that are delivered amongst healthcare professions. However, their attitudes and perception would also affect on the amount knowledge that nurses‟ have around mental illness (Nyblade, et al., 2019). Therefore, the concept of mental illness needs to start from the healthcare professional‟s perspective for which their attitudes, perception and knowledge needs to be understood. This however needs to depend on a number of key conditions such as a lack of community and family support, education and lack of human iv resources. Therefore it is important for attitudes, knowledge and perceptions to be explored among the nursing profession as they integrate healthcare services into the primary healthcare facilities. Aruna et al., (2016) assessed medical students‟ perception, knowledge and attitudes towards psychiatric disorders. The results appeared that the participant‟s had limited knowledge and attitudes towards psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, only (25%, n=101) of the students were open to taking up psychiatry in the future, whereas (50.9%, n=206) were reluctant to be involved in psychiatry, while (24%, n=97) were not sure about answering the question. Similarly, Hasan (2020) found that undergraduate nursing student‟ showed poor attitudes and stigmatising beliefs towards mental illness, and that mental-health-specific training seems to improve perceptions towards mental health while clinical placement would lead to a decrease in negative attitudes and stigma regarding mental health. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the perceptions, knowledge and attitudes of professional nurses working in primary healthcare hold towards common mental illness in the North West Province.