Psychiatrists’ Attitude and Beliefs for Mentally Ill


Psychiatrists’Attitude and Beliefs for Mentally Ill

Psychiatrists’Attitude and Beliefs for Mentally Ill

Theimportance of health cannot be understated as far as the growth anddevelopment of any country is concerned. Indeed, it has always beenacknowledged that health is directly tied to the capacity of aneconomy to produce, particularly considering that only healthyindividuals would engage in or undertake productive activities.However, it has always been the case that issues pertaining to mentalhealth are relegated to the periphery and discussions pertaining tothem never really taking the forefront. Recent times have seen anincrease or improvement in the effectiveness and quality of mentalhealth services and treatments. Of course, this is largely attributedto the increased ability of patients and their families to seekmedical assistance in the modern times. Further, it is alsoacknowledged that a lot of stigma plagues mental illness patients.Nevertheless, the attention of researchers has been turned to theattitudes and beliefs of psychiatrists (Corrigan &amp Watson, 2002).Indeed, there are questions on whether the attitudes and beliefs ofpsychiatrists have a bearing on the accessibility to mental health.While there may be varying opinions, it is evident that the attitudesand beliefs of the psychiatrists have a bearing on the prevalence ofmental illness and the capacity of patients to seek medicalattention.

First,the beliefs and attitudes of the psychiatrist could act as a cue thatelicits stereotypes and knowledge structures use by the generalpublic to learn about a particular social group. Scholars haveacknowledged that stereotypes become extremely efficient in thecategorization of information pertaining to social groups. They areseen as social since they are a representation of the collectivelyagreed on perceptions and notions pertaining to a group of people.Their efficiency is underlined by the fact that individuals have thecapacity to quickly generate expectations and impressions of thepeople that belong to the stereotyped group (Iheanacho et al, 2014).Some of the common stereotypes regarding individuals with mentalillnesses include incompetence, violence, and blameworthiness in thesense that they are responsible for the advent and the persistence oftheir disorder as a result of their weak character. In instanceswhere the psychiatrists are prejudiced against the mentally illindividuals, they would essentially be endorsing the negativestereotypes and generating negative emotional results (Iheanacho etal, 2014). Similarly, prejudicial attitudes, which involve anevaluative part of perception would result in discrimination, inwhich case there would be less likelihood that the individuals wouldseek medical attention.

Inaddition, the attitudes and beliefs of psychiatrists have an impacton the interface between the mental illness of an individual and thecriminal justice system. More often than not, the attitude of thehealthcare practitioners affects the manner in which particularailments are perceived by the law enforcement agencies. Scholars haveacknowledged that mental illnesses are often criminalized by thepolice in instances where they respond to them instead of having themental health system do the same (Stuart &amp Arboleda-Florez,2001). Indeed, research has indicated that individuals thatdemonstrate signs and symptoms of serious mental illness have ahigher likelihood of being arrested by the law enforcement agenciescompared to the mentally sound (Coker, 2005). Similarly, theattitudes of the psychiatrists may generate some stigma in thegeneral health system where such patients have less likelihood forbenefiting from the breadth and depth of the available physicalhealthcare services compared to individuals that do not have thesame. Similar studies have suggested that such patients have lesslikelihood for obtaining a range of insurance benefits that mentallysound individuals can obtain or are entitled to (Stuart &ampArboleda-Florez, 2001).

Onthe same note, controlled social laboratory studies show that thereexists an inverse relationship between the psychiatric instigatedpublic stigma and the capacity of an individual to seek medical care.Indeed, a survey demonstrated that members of the general public thatplaced the blame on patients for their mental illness and evenwithheld medical assistance from them had a less likelihood forseeking medical care for themselves (Jorm &amp Griffiths, 2008).Even in instances where the patients managed to seek medicalattention, the stigmatizing attitudes of the public and thepsychiatrists would have a negative effect on their capacity toadhere to treatment. The endorsement of negative attitudes andbeliefs regarding mental illnesses would inhibit the personal serviceutilization in individuals that stand the risk for psychiatricdisorder (Jorm &amp Griffiths, 2008). There are varied ways in whichthe beliefs of psychiatrists can sway individuals from treatmentincluding concerns pertaining to the thoughts of other people, aswell as the desire to solve one’s problems on their own as theyknow that they would not be accorded the appropriate assistance bythe psychiatrists.

Similarly,the psychiatrist attitude and belief has a bearing on the self-esteemof the individuals affected. More often than not, people give a wideberth too stigma pertaining to mental illness as a result of itspotential impacts on the individual sense of self. In instances wherethe physicians endorse particular notions or stereotypes pertainingto mental illness, the society or culture is likely to be steeped instigmatizing images, in which case the individuals that are mentallyill would accept the notions and eventually suffer diminishedself-confidence, self esteem, as well as self-efficacy (Corrigan &ampWatson, 2002). Scholars have stated that individuals with mentalillness usually internalize the stigmatizing ideas that have beenwidely endorsed in the society and even hold the belief that theyhave less value as a result of their mental or psychiatric disorder(Taylor &amp Dear, 2001). Individuals that agree with the prejudicewould concur with the stereotypes, in which case the self-prejudicewould result in negative emotional reactions particularly low-selfefficacy and low self esteem. In this context, self esteem is seen asthe diminished perceptions pertaining to personal worth, oftenexperienced as shame (Wolff et al, 1996). It has been acknowledgedthat families have a tendency to have intense sense of shame as asecondary result of the mental illness of a family member (Martin etal, 2007). On the other hand, self-efficacy underlines theexpectation that an individual can successfully undertake a behaviorwithin a certain situation. It is worth noting that demoralizationand low self-efficacy are associated with failure to pursueindependent living opportunities or work at which individuals withmental illnesses could otherwise succeed (Perkins et al, 2009). It isnoteworthy that this shame would have a bearing on the ability of anindividual to seek treatment. Research has shown that individualsthat expressed a sense of shame as a result of personal experienceswith the mental illnesses have reduced likelihood for pursuingtreatment.

Moreover,psychiatrists’ attitudes and beliefs have been shown to have abearing on the mental health seeking capacity across racial andethnic backgrounds. Researchers have underlined the fact that thereare variations between the service utilization rates for individualsin varying ethnic and racial groups. Indeed, European Americans thatare suffering from mental illness have a higher likelihood for usingpsychiatric services compared to Hispanics and African Americans. Ofcourse, there is no way of telling how much this results from stigmaand prejudice from the psychiatrists and the public (Kate et al,2014). While there may be variations between the contribution of thegeneral public and the psychiatrists to the stigma, it is well notedthat the beliefs and attitudes of the psychiatrists have a bearing onthe kind of treatment that they accord to mental health patients, aswell as their likelihood for following up on the mental health issues(Wei et al, 2014). Research has also indicated that there is reducedlikelihood for non-Caucasians to even think of or perceive themedical system as a useful source of the treatment for mental health,which is seen as a reflection of the basic prejudices that plague themental health care system. In the case of African Americans, scholarshave noted that the prejudicial attitudes and beliefs of thepsychiatrists often cause them to see the church as a better venuefor treatment of mental illnesses compared to the mental healthcaresystem (Kate et al, 2014). This may be triggered by the belief that alarge proportion of African Americans have low incomes and educationstatus, in which case they are seen as more of a flight risk comparedto their white or Caucasian counterparts, in which case thepsychiatrists and mental health practitioners often treat them in ademeaning manner (Wolff et al, 1996).

Inconclusion, mental health has elicited immense controversy in thecontemporary human society. This is not only as a result of itsimplication but particularly the deficiency of knowledge pertainingto its varied aspects including causes, and effective treatment.Recent times have seen an increase in the attention to the same, withscholars examining the effects of psychiatrists’ attitudes andbeliefs on the capacity of individuals with mental illnesses to seektreatment. It is noted that psychiatrist attitudes and beliefs canreinforce or endorse the commonly held prejudices and decrease thelikelihood that the individuals would seek medical attention. On thesame note, it could have a bearing on the manner in which the publicitself treats them. Such attitudes cause the families of suchindividuals to see no need for seeking medical attention for theirloved ones. Similarly, it causes the mentally ill to cease to followup on the medication that that they are required to take. This isparticularly seen in the case of African Americans, who have beenshown to give mental health services a wide berth instead preferringto go for cure in churches. This may have resulted from thecondescending nature of mental health practitioners or psychiatristsagainst the African Americans.


Thispersuasive communication was aimed at outlining the fact that theattitudes and beliefs of psychiatrists have a bearing on theprevalence of mental illnesses, as well as the manner in which thepatients are treated by both the public and the law enforcementagencies. The communication targets not only students but alsohealthcare practitioners as it is imperative that their services areprovided with fairness and equity. The persuasive communication wascreated in an effort to take into account the varied techniques andmodels particularly Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) by Petty andCacioppo (1986), which is a dual process theory that outlines themanner in which attitudes are formed and modified. Of course, theindividual being persuaded is important, just as is the personpresenting the studies. Indeed, it may be noted that the assertionsmade by an individual may be taken into account not as a result oftheir content but the authority that an individual holds.

Thiscommunication started with Bruno Mars’ song “just the way youare”, in the background, aiming at having a leading effect on theaudience as it lays emphasis on loving an individual irrespective ofhis or her status. The priming component underlines the accessing ofheuristic pathways without the individuals’ awareness.


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