To assess nurses' knowledge and perceptions towards mental illness.
This was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted among 126 randomly selected nurses those are working under District Mental Health program in Karnataka (India). The data was collected through self-reported questionnaires Using the modified version of Public perception of mental illness questionnaire and Attitude Scale for Mental Illness.
The findings revealed that majority of the subjects were women (74.4%), Hindus (92.1%) and were from rural background (69.8%). The mean Knowledge score 10.8±1.6 adequate knowledge (maximum possible =12) among 91% of the subjects, and 52% of them hold negative attitudes towards people with mental illness (88.9±13.6). While majority of the subjects hold negative attitudes in 'Separatism' (53.5%), 'Stereotyping' (73%), 'Benevolence' (54%), 'Pessimistic prediction' (53%) domains, they hold positive attitudes in 'Restrictiveness' (88%) and 'Stigmatization' (72%) domains. Women than men endorsed positive attitudes towards persons with mental illness in Stereotyping' (p<0.001), 'Restrictiveness' (p<0.01), 'Benevolence' (p<0.001) and 'Pessimistic prediction' (t= 2.22, p<0.05) domains. Similarly, Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery found to be less restrictive (p<0.05), more benevolent (p<0.001) and less pessimistic (p<0.05) compared to nurses with higher education (General Nursing and Midwifery and Bachelor of Science in Nursing).
The present study showed adequate knowledge on mental illness among nurses. Yet they hold stigmatizing and negative attitudes towards mental illness. Hence, it is an urgent priority to develop and implement educational programs to inculcate positive attitudes towards people with mental illness to provide optimal care to this vulnerable population.