The Impact of Exposure On Mental Health Sigma

Abstract

This is a cross-sectional analytical study using a survey administered to Northeastern University Physical Therapy students. This survey seeks to gauge PT studentsÍ perceptions about individuals with mental health illnesses and understand how much exposure these students have to mental illnesses through family, friends or clients who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The purpose of this study is to examine Northeastern University Physical Therapy studentsÍ perceptions of people with mental health disorders, and to compare the attitudes of those who have had exposure to people with mental health disorders to those who have not. Our study also looks to identify, whether a relationship exists between stigma and exposure in the clinical environment. We have selected a survey which can generalize perceptions across mental health disorders in order for replication year after year to track trends in mental health stigma. This survey was taken from research done by Kobau et al. and is reliable and replicable. This survey is generic, brief and multidimensional which demonstrates convergent validity for use to monitor stigma . We will modify the survey from last year to capture more information that may be useful to changing attitudes. We hypothesize that students with exposure and experience with clients in a clinical setting will likely have more positive attitudes towards clients with a mental health disorder. æBy identifying the presence of stigma, interventions can be established to reduce stigma and promote better service provided to clients with mental health illnesses in the future.