Public stigma towards mental illness in the Greek culture

Authors

  • V. Tzouvara BSc MSc PhD,

    Student
    1. Institute for Health Research, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, Bedfordshire, UK
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  • C. Papadopoulos BSc PhD

    Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Health Research, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, Bedfordshire, UK
    • Correspondence:

      C. Papadopoulos

      Institute for Health Research

      University of Bedfordshire

      Room 32

      Putteridge Bury Campus

      Hitchin Road

      Luton

      Bedfordshire LU2 8LE

      UK

      E-mail: chris.papadopoulos@beds.ac.uk

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Abstract

Accessible summary

  • The study aimed to examine the occurrence and type of mental illness stigma that exists in the Greek culture.
  • One hundred and eleven individuals who viewed themselves as belonging to the Greek culture completed a questionnaire that measured different types of stigma and their level. These people lived in either England or Greece.
  • Overall, the Greek people sampled in our survey were found to possess medium-high level of authoritarian attitudes (the view that people with mental illness are inferior) and a moderate level of social restrictiveness (the view that they should be restricted and carefully controlled in society). The results also found a high ‘benevolence’ score, which indicates that they are also sympathetic to people with mental illness. Greeks educated in England (instead of Greece), who were more religious, who had less knowledge about mental illness and less personal experience of mental illness were most likely to hold stigmatizing attitudes.
  • The results – which support previous research – show that Greek people are sympathetic towards the mentally ill but nevertheless feel the need for them to be closely controlled in society. This means that more work is needed to help minimize negative attitudes among Greek people.

Abstract

Mental illness stigma negatively affects the lives of individuals with mental health disorders. Studies have indicated that the type and degree of stigma significantly varies across cultures. This study aimed to add to this body of knowledge by examining the prevalence and the type of mental illness stigma among individuals who identified themselves as Greek. It also examined the influence of a range of potential within-culture stigma moderating factors, including levels of previous experience with mental illness and mental illness knowledge. A cross-sectional quantitative design was employed, and 111 participants living in England and Greece were sampled through the snowball sampling technique. Stigma prevalence was measured using the ‘Community Attitudes to Mental Illness’ questionnaire. The findings revealed that participants showed a high degree of sympathy for people with mental illness but also considered them to be inferior and of a lower social class, and needing strict societal control. Higher stigma was significantly associated with being educated in England (instead of Greece), higher religiosity, lower knowledge levels and lower levels personal experience of mental illness. Targeted antistigma campaigns specifically tailored for the Greek culture are required in order to help reduce stigmatizing attitudes.

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