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A Questionnaire Survey on Attitudes and Understanding towards Mental Disorders

Objectives: To obtain information about basic knowledge towards mental disorders and to evaluate public attitudes towards mental disorders in the Hong Kong Chinese population.

Methods: Questionnaires which collected basic demographic information, opinions about potential stigmas and myths, and knowledge on case vignettes depicting fictional characters with symptoms of mental illness were delivered to subjects in a secondary school, 2 homes for the elderly, a private housing estate, and a public housing estate in Hong Kong.

Results: Completed questionnaires were collected from 1035 subjects. In general, the participants’acceptance of mental illness was good. Regular contacts with such patients were associated with better knowledge (t = –2.71, p < 0.01) and better acceptance (t = 2.77, p < 0.01) of mental illness. Younger participants aged 15 to 19 years had a lower level of knowledge about mental health problems compared with other age-groups (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Personal contact with people with mental illness may help to improve knowledge and
acceptance. Younger people in secondary school should be the target and prioritised group for mental health education. Apart from the delivery of mental health knowledge, strategies to increase social contact of the public with people having mental illness could be considered in the design and implementation of anti-stigma programmes.

Key words: Asian Continental Ancestry Group; Knowledge; Mental disorders; Social stigma

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