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A Survey on Public Attitudes Toward Mental Illness and Mental Health Services Among Four Cities in Saudi Arabia

Authors Alsubaie S, Almathami M, Alkhalaf H, Aboulyazid A, Abuhegazy H

Received 13 June 2020

Accepted for publication 22 September 2020

Published 27 October 2020 Volume 2020:16 Pages 2467—2477

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S265872

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Sultan Alsubaie,1 Mohammad Almathami,1 Hanouf Alkhalaf,2 Ahmed Aboulyazid,3,4 Hesham Abuhegazy1,5

1Department of Psychiatry, Armed Forces Hospital, Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia; 2Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 3Preventive Medicine, Armed Forces Hospital, Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia; 4Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt; 5Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine for Boys, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt

Correspondence: Sultan Alsubaie
Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychiatry Department, Armed Forces Hospital, Southern Region, P.O. Box 101, Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia
Tel +966503799971
Email dr.slt4444@gmail.com

Purpose: Our objectives are to assess the public attitude toward mentally ill people and mental health services and to compare the attitudes of those who have past history of mental illness, those who have been exposed to mentally ill people, and those who have not.
Materials and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among subjects (n=1268) in four Saudi Arabian cities (Riyadh, Abha, Dammam, and Jizan), recruiting participants from malls and parks. All participants were administered “the knowledge and attitudes toward mental illness and mental health services scale”.
Results: Participants were divided into three groups; non-exposed to mental illness group (n=687, 54.1%), exposed to mental illness group (n=305, 24%), and having past history of mental illness group (n=276, 21.8%). Results revealed that non-exposed group had the lowest knowledge about mental illness (p < 0.001). Exposed group had the best attitude toward mentally ill people (p=0.002), mental health services (p< 0.001), the lowest impact of traditional beliefs (p< 0.001), and the best help-seeking decisions (p = 0.001). Regression models show the variables that predicted attitude toward the mentally ill were the attitude toward mental health services (p=0.001), impact of traditional beliefs (p=0.001), and residency (p=0.04). The predictors of attitude toward mental health services were impact of traditional beliefs (p< 0.001), knowledge (p< 0.001), and residency (p=0.028). And the variables that account for predicting future decisions were impact of traditional beliefs (p< 0.001), attitude toward mental health services (p=0.001), and having past history of mental illness (p=0.006).
Conclusion: This study demonstrates significant differences in attitudes toward mental illness among different groups of participants. Lesser impact of traditional beliefs and better knowledge about mental illness were the factors most associated with better attitudes toward mentally ill people and mental health services and with better help-seeking behavior.

Keywords: public, attitude, opinion, mental illness, mental health service, Saudi Arabia

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