Mental health literacy survey among Sri Lankan carers of patients with schizophrenia and depression
Introduction Mental health literacy has been defined as knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management or prevention. Aim Preliminary investigation on mental health literacy among Sri Lankan carers of patients with Schizophrenia and Depression. Method Cross sectional descriptive study investigated a convenience sample of 119 carers of a person with Depression or Schizophrenia attending a community clinic using vignettes adapted from an existing mental health literacy survey. Results The Schizophrenia vignette was reported as a crisis by 28% and 35.6% reported the Depression vignette as a crisis. Schizophrenia and Depression were identified as mental illnesses by 72% and 64% respectively. Persons with Schizophrenia and Depression were reported to be more violent than a member of the community by 61% and 60%. Psychiatrist's help was preferred as the therapeutic intervention in Schizophrenia (86.7%) and Depression (91.5%), whereas only 21.7% preferred traditional healers. Carers of persons with Schizophrenia (72%) and Depression (61%) held the attitude that the problem is a sign of personal weakness. Sixteen percent of carers wanted to avoid people with similar problems. Discussion Carers had stigmatising attitudes such as persons with mental illness were violent and the illness was a sign of personal weakness. A minority wanted to avoid persons with similar problems, indicating that maintaining social distance was not a major issue. Carers had good knowledge of help seeking locations with a majority identifying psychiatrists and psychiatric wards in general hospitals. Conclusion The mental health literacy amongst the carers are lacking in certain areas. They have stigmatising attitudes towards people withmental illness.