People with mental disorders often encounter stigmatizing attitudes related to their conditions. Stigma often represents one of the critical obstacles that stand in the way of delivering mental health care. The main aim of the study was to assess the knowledge and attitudes toward mental disorders in a sample of the Chinese population; furthermore, we also aimed to identify and explore the socio-demographic characteristics associated with specific knowledge and attitudes towards psychiatric disorders.
A cross-sectional survey was created and delivered through an Internet chat application over the period June–December 2017. The Mental Health Knowledge Questionnaire and the Perceived Devaluation and Discrimination Scale were used to evaluate the participants’ mental health knowledge and attitudes toward mental disorders.
A total of 1087 participants were recruited in for our survey. The mean score of the MHKQ and PDD were (15.89 ± 2.69) and (33.77 ± 6.66), respectively. Univariate analyses showed that young people and rural residents tended to show more positive attitudes toward mental disorders with respect to older people and urban residents ( P < 0.05). People with higher education levels, those who had contact with people with mental disorders, and those who learned about mental disorders by personal encounter resulted to have had higher MHKQ scores ( P < 0.05).
In our sample of the Chinese population, negative attitudes toward mental disorders were often reported. General education programs may not be an effective way to decrease stigma, while anti-stigma campaigns targeted for specific groups, such as urban residents and the older people, should be carried out in the future in China.