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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

HICKLING, Frederick W.; ROBERTSON-HICKLING, Hilary  and  PAISLEY, Vanessa. Deinstitutionalization and attitudes toward mental illness in Jamaica: a qualitative study. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.29, n.3, pp. 169-176. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892011000300004.

OBJECTIVE: To consider whether or not deinstitutionalization and the integration of community mental health care with primary health care services have reduced stigma toward mental illness in Jamaica. METHODS: A qualitative study of 20 focus groups, with a total of 159 participants grouped by shared sociodemographic traits. Results were analyzed using ATLAS.ti software. RESULTS: Participant narratives showed that stigma had transitioned from negative to positive, from avoidance and fear of violent behavior during the period of deinstitutionalization to feelings of compassion and kindness as community mental health services were integrated with Jamaica's primary health care system. The Bellevue Mental Hospital and homelessness were identified as major causes of stigma. CONCLUSIONS: Attitudes toward the mentally ill have improved and stigma has decreased since the increase of community involvement with the mentally ill. This reduction in stigma seems to be a result of the rigorous deinstitutionalization process and the development of a robust community mental health service in Jamaica.

Keywords : Attitude to health; mental disorders; community mental health services; deinstitutionalization; Jamaica.

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