Professional nurses’ attitudes and perceptions towards the mentally ill in an associated psychiatric hospital
Professional nurses, with additional training in mental health, report attitudes and perceptions of mental health nursing that are more positive, whilst those with less training report more negative attitudes and perceptions to mental health nursing. The primary aim of this research study was to describe the attitudes and perceptions of professional nurses towards the mentally ill in a psychiatric hospital in the Cape Metropole. The objectives of the study were: to explore the attitudes and perceptions of professional nurses towards the mentally ill; to identify common factors that influence the professional nurses’ attitudes and perceptions towards the mentally ill; to compare the attitudes and perceptions of professional nurses who have completed the Regulation 425, Regulation 808 and Regulation 212 training in mental health nursing towards the mentally ill. A quantitative, exploratory, descriptive design was employed and cross-sectional survey was carried out. Participants comprised all permanent professional nurses (n=60) at a governmental Associated Psychiatric Hospital in the Cape Metropole. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and two self-report questionnaires, measuring attitudes to and perceptions of mental health problems. Nurses with a diploma report significantly higher role competency than those nurses with a degree. The ethnicity of nurses played a role in the stereotyping of the mentally ill. No significant differences were evident between those professional nurses who had completed the advanced mental health course and those whom had not. However, the combined effects of learning the appropriate course and experience in the practical field of the mentally ill are necessary for the task of impacting positively on the attitudes of the nurses towards the mentally ill.
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