Stigmatizing Beliefs towards People with Mental Illness in Lithuanian and US Psychology Students
Aistė Pranckevičienė, PhD; Kristina Žardeckaitė-Matulaitienė, PhD; Auksė Endriulaitienė, PhD; Rasa Markšaitytė, PhD; Douglas R. Tillman, PhD; David D. Hof, PhD

Introduction: Professional education of mental health specialists seeks not only to develop knowledge and skills, but also to keep from forming stigmatized attitudes towards their patients. Aim. This study aimed to compare psychology students’ stigmatizing beliefs in two countries: Lithuania and the US. Method: A total of 528 psychology students (110 from the US and 418 from Lithuania) participated in this cross-sectional survey. Students answered questions relating to distancing from people with mental illness, emotional reactions, causal attributions and community attitudes towards mentally ill individuals. Results: Lithuanian psychology students reported a stronger desire for social distance, expressed more fear, anger and pity, and were less optimistic about the possibilities of personal control of illness than US students. In both countries, social distance decreased, and support to community mental health care increased with education. However, only minor changes were observed in emotional reactions and cognitive beliefs about mental illness. Fear and anger significantly correlated with disagreement of community mental health care ideology and social distance. Discussion and implications for practice: Results illustrate that culture is important in stigmatizing attitudes despite of professional education. Affective dimensions of stigmatizing beliefs might be a special target planning anti-stigma interventions for mental health professionals.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jpbs.v8n1a4