Publication Type  Report
Year of Publication  2002
Prepared for  Professionals and Community
Pages  28
Date  August 2002
Institution  St Ann's Hospital, Research and Development Section
City  London
ISBN Number  -
ISSN Number  -
Accession Number  -
Call Number  -
Other Numbers  -
Key Words  Stigma; The Kurds


Stigma is an important issue influences social interactions among people. Many theorists argue that bearers of stigma cause perceivers to feel a sense of uncertainty, discomfort, anxiety, or even danger during social interactions (Crocker,Major&Steele, 1988; Goffman,1963;Janes et al,1984). Many researchers have been taken into account cultural, social, political and psychological aspects of stigmatisation progress in different ethnic groups living under migration conditions. Research evidence suggests that psychological problems occurred in result of poor communication, lack of knowledge and experiences in ethnic minorities. Minority ethnic groups more likely to hold negative attitudes towards mental illness. As in many communities, mental health issues are treated as a taboo(Eren;Avni&Koumbarji,1999). This comparative study was carried out to test the three hypothesises related to social attitudes, knowledge and experience toward mentally ill people in the Kurdish and Turkish communities living in North London.

The Community Attitudes to Mental Illness Scale (CAMI) questionnaire (Taylor&Dear, 1981) was used for measuring attitudes toward mental illness. The scale focused on measuring levels of ‘authoritarianism’, ’social restrictiveness’ and ‘community mental health ideology’. We measured each participant’s knowledge and experiences about mental illness used by Wolff et al (1996). We also examined intelligence and aggressive behaviour of people with mental problems. The technique of snowball sampling was used. The sample was selected from the Kurdish and Turkish communities originating from North Kurdistan and Turkey. The number of participants was 138 from 18 and over age group. Negative attitudes and lack of knowledge about mental illness was raised from lower socio economic status and educational level in Turkey, North Kurdistan and England. Kurdish participants held very poor knowledge and limited contact with mentally ill people. The same ethnic group was more authoritarian and restricting than Turkish participants. But, they were at least compassionate toward mentally ills because of cultural and religion norms. In this study, forty five (33.3%, n=138) participants had visited a psychiatric hospital. Fifty two percent had known people with a mental problem of whom 27.9 %( 36 participants) were family members with a mental problem. Older participants were negative in terms of believing mentally ill people were aggressive, less intelligent. Mental problems also have been shown in all age group and educational levels in the both communities. However, there were not ethnic differences between measures of benevolence or aggressive behaviour.

This study examined to confirm the belief that stigma attached to mental illness is strong among the Kurdish and Turkish communities. They belief that mentally ill people is very dangerous, aggressive and less intelligent by normal people. Although, they have had at least sympathy for people with mental problems because of cultural, social and religion norms affected their behaviours within the same group. Mysticism is clearly affecting factor for treatment of mental problems in the both groups. Although not all of them preferred mystic beliefs in relation to de stigmatisation. Level of acculturation may be one of the expectations while compared social attitudes, knowledge and experiences between the both communities. An educational and health campaign tailored for their socio demographic backgrounds may promote more positive attitudes. These educational and health campaigns therefore could be strong foundation to develop higher levels knowledge toward the mentally ill people.


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