Just like racism or sexism, ‘sanism’, the stigma associated with mental illnesses, is also quite common. There is a need to understand that having a mental illness does not make that person ‘crazy’. In Singapore, many still believe in a common myth that having a mental illness can make one ‘violent’ or ‘dangerous’. In fact, a majority of adult students from the University of Singapore (UOS) avoid seeking medical and professional help due to causal beliefs and misinformation about disturbed mental conditions, says a recent study conducted by Singaporean researchers. The findings of the study have been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The study was funded by the Tote Board, Singapore.
The team of researchers did a cross-sectional study aimed to find out those factors that ceased the Singaporean people from looking up for professional help after experience any kind of mental health disorders that refer to a wide range mental health disturbances that can affect a person’s mood, behavior and thinking patterns caused by emotional disturbances, societal, family, organizational or educational distress.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every one out of four individuals has been diagnosed with mental or neurological disorders around the world. Whereas, every one out of eight individuals is suffering from mental health conditions in Singapore. Three of the top-rated psychological disorders in Singapore included Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Alcohol Abuse Disorder (AAD), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), according to a report published by the Institute of Mental Health: National Healthcare Group.
However, the team collected a sample from the US. The data consisted of 390 students. The investigators applied a self-administered questionnaire to find out the factors including causal beliefs about Mental Illness that can be defined as a part of a belief system that included those beliefs concerned with causes, consequences, interventions, and causal mechanisms.
Two other main things were gained from questionnaires including sociodemographic data of students and inventory of attitudes towards seeking mental health services.
To find out a link between three above-mentioned variables of the current study including causal beliefs, help-seeking behavior, and sociodemographic data, the team administered a multiple linear regression analysis (MLRA) which is also known as multiple regression, a statistical method to evaluate the connection between one continuous dependent variable and two or more independent variables by using several explanatory variables.
The researchers also find out a difference between the personality and psychosocial attribution which means the explanation for the cause of a person’s behavior or explanation about how people make sense of their own behavior and others’ behavior.
After the compilation of all the statistical analysis, the team found out two main findings:
Psychosocial Attribution: The young adults showed high scores on psychosocial attribution on ‘help-seeking propensity.
Personality Attribution: Those Singaporean people that have some kind of mental illness with regard to personality attribution showed low scores on ‘Psychological Openness’ and ‘Indifference to Stigma.
The whole findings of the current cohort suggest that people from Singapore do not seek help due to the causal beliefs and misconceptions about mental illnesses made by society. Therefore, there is a need to develop anti-stigma intervention to educate those people who think that having a psychological disorder will label you ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’.
A person can deal with the mental health conditions by following some factors that can protect his/her human psyche. The factors include good parenting, self-esteem, learning of coping skills, social and conflict management skills, and problem-solving skill to deal with stressful events that can be experienced after adverse distressful occasions.