The Stigma of Mental Illness in Sri Lanka: The Perspectives of Community Mental Health Workers

Objective: To gain an understanding of how stigma associated with mental illness exists in Sri Lanka from the perspectives of community mental health workers and to explore their views on how stigma may be tackled in the future.
Methods: Purposive and snowball sampling methods were used to recruit community mental health workers for this small qualitative study. Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted using an interview guide. The data were analyzed using the ‘thematic framework’ approach.
Results: Stigma is associated with the family unit; there is strong faith in traditional beliefs and healers; and negative attitudes and behaviours exist regarding mental illness. Community mental health workers are influenced by poor health seeking behaviours and low prioritization of mental health services in the country.
Conclusions: This study provides insight into how stigma exists in Sri Lankan communities and influences the work of community mental health workers. Findings reinforce existing international health literature and thus convey that stigma is an important issue that must be tackled globally.
Implications: Community mental health workers can contribute to reducing stigma by increasing awareness of mental illness in various ways but increasing the availability of services within Sri Lanka is also a key to reducing stigma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.