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Title: Public opinions towards people with mental health problems : a qualitative study of older adults
Author: Bellringer, Sophie Margaret
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 1149
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2010
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Background: Negative public attitudes and discrimination towards people with mental health problems have persisted throughout history. Despite recent 'antistigma' campaigns, older adults still sometimes hold misinformed and negative attitudes. Yet, little is known about how these attitudes have been formed and the depth and nuance of views. Aim: To explore older adults' views towards mental health problems and people with mental health difficulties. Particular attention was given to influences which informed these views. Methods: Five males and ten females between the ages of 66-89 years (mean age = 75.3) were recruited from a range of community groups in the south Essex area. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and social constructionist grounded theory was utilised to analyse the data. Results: The theoretical framework 'perceptions and evaluations of mental health problems and people with mental health difficulties' was constructed from the data. Participant views were influenced by personal experience, the media, societal discourses and contact with individuals with mental health problems. Mental health problems were understood as psychiatric diagnoses, 'illnesses' and abnormalities and were explained with reference to bio-psycho-social causes and within moralistic and historical frameworks. Participants said that people with mental health problems could be harmful, violent, unpredictable, uncontrollable and difficult to interact with; these views sometimes led to social avoidance. Participants particularly empathised with individuals with a diagnosis of dementia but were fearful of people diagnosed as schizophrenic. The perceived impacts of mental health problems included societal discrimination and impaired quality of life. Professional assistance, informal support and individual responsibility were considered important for recovery. Implications: These findings highlight the importance of anti -discri mination practices which take into consideration the views of older adults and perhaps specifically target this cohort. Clinical psychologists have a role to play in these practices as well as the media, policy and social justice
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available