The Influence of Beliefs About Causes of Depression on Perceived Stigma and Social Distance in Iranian Adolescents
R. Pauli1, G. Pasha2, C. Gilvarry1, C. Essau1
1University of Roehampton, Department of Psychology, United Kingdom
2Islamic Azad University, Ahvaz Branch, Iran
Depression frequently first emerges during adolescence. Evidence suggests that young people’s knowledge about causes of depression, preventative strategies and treatment are important factors in seeking timely professional help. However, a significant barrier to seeking out care is the perceived stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly in non-Western cultures. In this study, Iranian adolescents (N=1984 , Age=12 -17 yrs) were presented with a vignette depicting a character with depression. Approximately half the adolescents correctly recognised depression as the problem. Participants also rated the likelihood of different causes of the problem. Perceived stigma was predicted by causal attributions to upbringing, bad luck and mental illness, whereas the most significant predictors of personal social distance were causes under the affected person’s control, such as the ‘normal ups and down’s of life’ and ‘bad character’. It is important to address beliefs about causes of depression as part of a mental health literacy programme in order to reduce stigma associated with common misconceptions of mental illness improve health seeking behaviour in adolescents.