Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Middle-Schoolers Uncertain About Mental Illness Questions

Middle-school students are hazy about the causes and treatment of mental illnesses and have mixed attitudes toward people with mental illness. In a survey of 193 students in four states, 65% expressed uncertainty about whether mental disorders are caused by biological factors, and only 37% believed that medications are helpful in treating mental illness—a surprise to Otto Wahl, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Hartford, and colleagues, writing in the July Psychiatric Services. However, 72% of the students said that people with mental illness are treated unfairly.

But feelings seemed to vary inversely with distance. About 78% of students said they would talk to a person with mental illness, and 56% wouldn’t mind having one as a classmate, but just 14% would go on a date with a person who has a mental illness. Lack of knowledge about mental illness may make it hard for young people to recognize symptoms in themselves or their peers, and negative group attitudes may hinder willingness to seek care, suggested the authors.

To read more about this study, see Psychiatric News here. For an abstract of the study in Psychiatric Services, click here.

(Image: Rob Marmion/


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