Date of Conferral
Researchers have found that public opinion of people who are mentally ill is often negative. This study, grounded in cognitive theories, was conducted to determine if education would improve college students' attitudes toward mental illness and if there were gender differences in those attitudes, as past studies had shown. Attitudes of 184 Jamacian adult college students towards mental illness were measured before and after a didactic seminar using the Attitudes to Mental Illness Questionnaire (AMIQ), Opinion About Mental Illness Scale (OMI), and Help Seeking Attitudes Scale. A nonrandomized trial was used to generate nonequivalent comparison groups, with one group attending the seminar and the other group not attending the seminar. The generalized linear model and an analysis of covariance were used to examine the effects of the didactic seminar and gender on 2nd survey AMIQ, OMI, and HSAS scores. There were no differences in AMIQ scores between those who attended the didactic seminar and the control group who did not; however, there were significant differences on the OMI and HSAS scores between the attendee participants and the non-attendee participants. The nature of the differences indicated that attendees had a more positive attitude towards people with mental illness after the didactic seminar than did non-attendees. No gender differences were found on all scales for both groups. More research on individuals in different geographic areas and having varied demographic backgrounds is needed to determine the generalizability of the study results because the sample used in the current study was limited to one geographic area and had a specific demographic profile. Didactic seminars promoting positive views of people with mental illness could result in improved perceptions among the general public that may lead to better care.