Original Research

Mental illness attitudes, service provision interest and further training preferences of clinical associates

Saiendhra V. Moodley, Jacqueline Wolvaardt, Christoffel Grobler
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 1| a5808 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5808 | © 2024 Saiendhra V. Moodley, Jacqueline Wolvaardt, Christoffel Grobler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2023 | Published: 23 January 2024

About the author(s)

Saiendhra V. Moodley, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Jacqueline Wolvaardt, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Christoffel Grobler, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Non-specialist health professionals are required to provide mental health services given the burden of disease due to mental illness. The study aimed to explore the attitudes of clinical associates towards those with mental illness as well as their interest in mental health work and additional mental health training.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was utilised. The study population consisted of clinical associates based in South Africa. An electronic questionnaire was developed that incorporated the 16-item Mental Illness Clinicians’ Attitudes version 4 scale (MICA-4), which is scored out of 96 with higher scores indicating more stigmatising attitudes. Multivariate linear regression was used to determine factors associated with the MICA-4 score.

Results: The mean MICA-4 score for the 166 participants who completed all 16 questions was 37.55 (standard deviation 7.33). In multivariate analysis, the factors associated with significantly lower MICA-4 scores were falling in the 25- to 29-year-old age category and indicating that a mental health rotation formed part of the undergraduate degree. More than 80% of the participants (140/167, 83.8%) indicated an interest in mental health work. Two-thirds of the participants (111/167, 66.5%) indicated an interest in a specialisation in mental health.

Conclusion: The mean MICA-4 score recorded for clinical associates indicates low stigma levels towards those with mental illness. Additionally, there is significant interest in working and training in mental health.

Contribution: Training programmes should take note of the contribution of a mental health rotation to a positive attitude to mental health patients. Clinical associates’ attitudes towards mental illness together with their interest in working and training in mental health suggest that they could be more widely utilised in mental health service provision.


Keywords

mental illness; mental health; clinical associates; clinician attitudes; MICA-4

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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