The present research was undertaken to evaluate the current level of mental health awareness among family caregivers and to compare changes over a 23-year period between 1993 and 2016.
The current sample consisted of 60 family caregivers of patients with major mental illness from the in-patient and out-patient departments of NIMHANS, assessed on the Orientation towards Mental Illness Scale (OMI). This was compared with data of 80 family caregivers from previous study done in 1993.
Family caregivers in the current study showed a significant positive trend on comparison with the previous study. However, area of abnormal behaviour shows a worsening of negative attitudes. Hopelessness and hypo-functioning, relating to the factor of after-effects of mental illness show no significant difference.
While knowledge about mental illnesses can be improved by providing information, this does not automatically translate to integration of the mentally ill in society. Current initiatives need to be matched with specific and sustained efforts to reduce stigma associated with mental illness which have persisted unchanged.