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Mental health stigma is a multidimensional concept that encompasses many different themes and definitions. Public stigma is defined as the degree to which the general public holds negative views and discriminates against a specific group.
To understand the context and correlates of stigma in multi-ethnic Singapore.
The current study aimed to (i) explore the factor structure of the Depression Stigma Scale and the Social Distance Scale using an exploratory structural equation modelling approach and (ii) examine the correlates of the identified dimensions of stigma in the general population of Singapore.
Data for the current study came from a larger nation-wide cross-sectional study of mental health literacy conducted in Singapore. All respondents were administered the Personal and Perceived scales of the Depression Stigma Scale and the Social Distance scale to measure personal stigma and social distance respectively.
The findings from the factor analysis revealed that personal stigma formed two distinct dimensions comprising “Weak-not-Sick” and “Dangerous/Unpredictable” components while social distance stigma items loaded strongly into a single factor. Those of Malay and Indian ethnicity, lower education, lower income status and those who were administered the depression and alcohol abuse vignette were significantly associated with higher weak-not-sick scores. Those of Indian ethnicity, 6 years of education and below, lower income status and those who were administered the alcohol abuse vignette were significantly associated with higher dangerous/unpredictable scores.
There is a need for well-planned and culturally relevant anti-stigma campaigns in this population.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Various socio-demographic variables have been shown to influence attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help (ATSPPH), while negative ATSPPH can act as a barrier to mental healthcare, resulting in under-utilization of psychological services.
Aims and objectives
To explore the factor structure of the ATSPPH scale and determine whether any significant socio-demographic differences exist in relation to ATSPPH among a nationally representative sample.
Data was extracted from a population-based, cross-sectional survey conducted between March 2014 and March 2015 among Singapore Residents aged 18-65 years (n = 3006). Respondents completed the 10-item ATSPPH scale and also provided socio-demographic information. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was performed to establish the factor structure of the ATSPPH scale. Multivariable linear regression analyses were conducted to examine socio-demographic factors associated with ATSPPH.
EFA revealed that the ATSPPH scale formed three distinct dimensions comprising “Openness to seeking professional help”, “Value in seeking professional help” and “Preference to cope on your own”. Higher “Openness to seeking professional help” scores were significantly associated with 18-34-year-olds and unmarried respondents, whilst Malay ethnicity and lower education were significantly associated with lower openness scores. Malays, Indians and lower education were significantly associated with lower “Value in seeking professional help” scores, whereas higher “Preference to cope on your own” scores were significantly associated with lower education.
Population subgroups including those with lower educational levels and different ethnic groups have more negative ATSPPH. Tailored, culturally appropriate educational interventions which reduce negative ATSPPH are needed, which effectively target these populations.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Given the emphasis on inclusion of well-being interventions in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with mental disorders, it is important to understand the level and determinants of positive mental health (PMH) among them.
To conduct a cross-sectional study among patients with schizophrenia, depression and anxiety spectrum disorders to estimate PMH.
(i) To estimate the level of PMH among patients with mental disorders and compare these with the established general population estimates; (ii) to identify socio-demographic and clinical determinants of PMH.
Following ethics approval, 353 patients aged 21-65 years, receiving treatment at a psychiatric hospital in Singapore for schizophrenia, depression or anxiety spectrum disorders were included. Patients provided socio-demographic information and completed the multidimensional PMH instrument that provides total and domain-specific scores ranging from 1 to 6; higher scores indicate better PMH. Functioning was assessed with the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale and clinical data were obtained from administrative databases.
Sample comprised 142, 139 and 72 patients with schizophrenia, depression and anxiety spectrum disorders respectively, with a mean age of 39.2 years. Mean total PMH scores among them were 4.2, 3.7 and 3.8 respectively which were significantly lower than the general population mean of 4.5 (P < 0.001). Patients of Chinese ethnicity, with lower education, depression or anxiety, and lower GAF scores were more likely to have lower PMH.
This study identified patient subgroups that are likely to have poorer PMH. Interventions facilitating PMH among these patient groups would be beneficial and are needed.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
The second Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) – a nationwide, cross-sectional, epidemiological survey - was initiated in 2016 with the intent of tracking the state of mental health of the general population in Singapore. The study employed the same methodology as the first survey initiated in 2010. The SMHS 2016 aimed to (i) establish the 12-month and lifetime prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) (which included alcohol abuse and dependence) and (ii) compare the prevalence of these disorders with reference to data from the SMHS 2010.
Door-to-door household surveys were conducted with adult Singapore residents aged 18 years and above from 2016 to 2018 (n = 6126) which yielded a response rate of 69.0%. The subjects were randomly selected using a disproportionate stratified sampling method and assessed using World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0 (WHO-CIDI 3.0). The diagnoses of lifetime and 12-month selected mental disorders including MDD, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, GAD, OCD, and AUD (alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence), were based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria.
The lifetime prevalence of at least one mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder was 13.9% in the adult population. MDD had the highest lifetime prevalence (6.3%) followed by alcohol abuse (4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of any DSM-IV mental disorders was 6.5%. OCD had the highest 12-month prevalence (2.9%) followed by MDD (2.3%). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders assessed in SMHS 2016 (13.8% and 6.4%) was significantly higher than that in SMHS 2010 (12.0% and 4.4%). A significant increase was observed in the prevalence of lifetime GAD (0.9% to 1.6%) and alcohol abuse (3.1% to 4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of GAD (0.8% vs. 0.4%) and OCD (2.9% vs. 1.1%) was significantly higher in SMHS 2016 as compared to SMHS 2010.
The high prevalence of OCD and the increase across the two surveys needs to be tackled at a population level both in terms of creating awareness of the disorder and the need for early treatment. Youth emerge as a vulnerable group who are more likely to be associated with mental disorders and thus targeted interventions in this group with a focus on youth friendly and accessible care centres may lead to earlier detection and treatment of mental disorders.
To identify the common causal beliefs of mental illness in a multi-ethnic Southeast Asian community and describe the sociodemographic associations to said beliefs. The factor structure to the causal beliefs scale is explored. The causal beliefs relating to five different mental illnesses (alcohol abuse, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), dementia and schizophrenia) and desire for social distance are also investigated.
Data from 3006 participants from a nationwide vignette-based study on mental health literacy were analysed using factor analysis and multiple logistic regression to address the aims. Participants answered questions related to sociodemographic information, causal beliefs of mental illness and their desire for social distance towards those with mental illness.
Physical causes, psychosocial causes and personality causes were endorsed by the sample. Sociodemographic differences including ethnic, gender and age differences in causal beliefs were found in the sample. Differences in causal beliefs were shown across different mental illness vignettes though psychosocial causes was the most highly attributed cause across vignettes (endorsed by 97.9% of respondents), followed by personality causes (83.5%) and last, physical causes (37%). Physical causes were more likely to be endorsed for OCD, depression and schizophrenia. Psychosocial causes were less often endorsed for OCD. Personality causes were less endorsed for dementia but more associated with depression.
The factor structure of the causal beliefs scale is not entirely the same as that found in previous research. Further research on the causal beliefs endorsed by Southeast Asian communities should be conducted to investigate other potential causes such as biogenetic factors and spiritual/supernatural causes. Mental health awareness campaigns should address causes of mental illness as a topic. Lay beliefs in the different causes must be acknowledged and it would be beneficial for the public to be informed of the causes of some of the most common mental illnesses in order to encourage help-seeking and treatment compliance.
The ability to recognise a mental illness has important implications as it can aid in timely and appropriate help-seeking, and ultimately improve outcomes for people with mental illness. This study aims to explore the association between recognition and help-seeking preferences and stigmatising attitudes, for alcohol abuse, dementia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia, using a vignette-based approach.
This was a population-based, cross-sectional survey conducted among Singapore Residents (n = 3006) aged 18–65 years. All respondents were asked what they think is wrong with the person in the vignette and who they should seek help from. Respondents were also administered the Personal and Perceived sub scales of the Depression Stigma Scale and the Social Distance Scale. Weighted frequencies and percentages were calculated for categorical variables. A series of multiple logistic and linear regression models were performed separately by vignette to generate odd ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the relationship between help-seeking preference, and recognition and beta coefficients and 95% confidence intervals for the relationship between stigma and recognition.
Correct recognition was associated with less preference to seek help from family and friends for depression and schizophrenia. Recognition was also associated with increased odds of endorsing seeking help from a psychiatric hospital for dementia, depression and schizophrenia, while there was also an increased preference to seek help from a psychologist and psychiatrist for depression. Recognition was associated with less personal and perceived stigma for OCD and less personal stigma for schizophrenia, however, increased odds of social distancing for dementia.
The ability to correctly recognise a mental illness was associated with less preference to seek help from informal sources, whilst increased preference to seek help from mental health professionals and services and less personal and perceived stigma. These findings re-emphasise the need to improve mental health literacy and reinforce the potential benefits recognition can have to individuals and the wider community in Singapore.
The current study aimed to: (i) describe the extent of overall stigma as well as the differences in stigma towards people with alcohol abuse, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as (ii) establish the dimensions of stigma and examine its correlates, in the general population of Singapore, using a vignette approach.
Data for the current study came from a larger nation-wide cross-sectional study of mental health literacy conducted in Singapore. The study population comprised Singapore Residents (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) aged 18–65 years who were living in Singapore at the time of the survey. All respondents were administered the Personal and Perceived scales of the Depression Stigma scale and the Social Distance scale to measure personal stigma and social distance, respectively. Weighted mean and standard error of the mean were calculated for continuous variables, and frequencies and percentages for categorical variables. Exploratory structural equation modelling and confirmatory factor analysis were used to establish the dimensions of stigma. Multivariable linear regressions were conducted to examine factors associated with each of the stigma scale scores.
The mean age of the respondents was 40.9 years and gender was equally represented (50.9% were males). The findings from the factor analysis revealed that personal stigma formed two distinct dimensions comprising ‘weak-not-sick’ and ‘dangerous/unpredictable’ while social distance stigma items loaded strongly into a single factor. Those of Malay and Indian ethnicity, lower education, lower income status and those who were administered the depression and alcohol abuse vignette were significantly associated with higher weak-not-sick scores. Those of Indian ethnicity, 6 years of education and below, lower income status and those who were administered the alcohol abuse vignette were significantly associated with higher dangerous/unpredictable scores. Those administered the alcohol abuse vignette were associated with higher social distance scores.
This population-wide study found significant stigma towards people with mental illness and identified specific groups who have more stigmatising attitudes. The study also found that having a friend or family member with similar problems was associated with having lower personal as well as social distance stigma. There is a need for well-planned and culturally relevant anti-stigma campaigns in this population that take into consideration the findings of this study.
Few studies have examined the latent construct of psychotic symptoms or distinguished between the latent construct and its manifest indicators. The current study aimed to investigate the latent structure of psychotic symptoms using factor mixture modeling (FMM) and to use the best-fitting model to examine its sociodemographic and clinical correlates.
The Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) was based on an adult representative sample of the Singapore population. Psychotic symptoms were assessed by using the Psychosis Screen section of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0 (CIDI 3.0). FMM analyses were applied to determine the latent construct of psychotic symptoms. Sociodemographic and clinical correlates of the latent structure of psychosis symptoms were examined using multiple linear and logistic regression analyses.
The overall weighted lifetime prevalence of any psychotic experience was 3.8% in the SMHS after excluding subthreshold experiences. The FMM analysis clearly supported the dimensional model of the latent structure of psychotic symptoms. On deriving the total score for ‘psychosis symptoms’ in accordance with the one latent trait model, and correlating it with sociodemographic factors, we found that female gender, vocational education, current and past smokers were positively associated with the ‘psychosis’ total score.
There is a need for an increased understanding of, and research into, this intermediate state of ‘psychosis symptoms’ that do not meet diagnostic criteria for psychosis. It is also important to learn more about the group of individuals in the community who may have preserved functioning to elucidate the protective factors that prevent transition to psychosis.
The problem of wide treatment gaps in mental disorders is endemic world wide. The study aims to establish the treatment gap of common mental disorders in Singapore.
A national sample of 6616 persons aged 18 years and above was surveyed with the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview in which for each diagnostic module, respondents were asked a series of questions regarding treatment contact.
Treatment gap varied considerably between disorders; alcohol abuse had the largest treatment gap (96.2%), followed by obsessive compulsive disorder (89.8%) and alcohol dependence (88.3%). The disorder for which people were most likely to seek help was major depressive disorder. Women with dysthmia were more likely than men to seek help but this help seeking behavior was reversed among those with alcohol abuse and dependence. Age of onset was significantly associated with treatment contact with those who had an earlier age of onset less likely to have treatment contact than those with late age of onset for all disorders except obsessive compulsive disorder.
Our findings suggest that treatment gaps are wide even in an economically developed country like Singapore and other than sociodemographic factors, cultural influences might play an important role in help seeking behavior.
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