Original Research

Knowledge, attitudes, and help-seeking behaviour for mental illness in a Christian community

Nomthandazo Hlongwane, Vidette Juby
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 29 | a2139 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v29i0.2139 | © 2023 Nomthandazo Hlongwane, Vidette Juby | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2023 | Published: 07 November 2023

About the author(s)

Nomthandazo Hlongwane, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Vidette Juby, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Christian beliefs have a role in conceptualising mental illness, which determines help-seeking behaviour and treatment choices. The topic of mental illness is controversial in many Christian circles and is often avoided because of the beliefs and teachings stemming from the Christian faith. Inadequate and inaccurate knowledge about mental illness and its causes negatively impacts the attitudes towards mental illness, the mentally ill, and ultimately help-seeking behaviour.

Aim: This study aimed to explore knowledge, attitudes, and help-seeking behaviour for mental illness in a Christian community.

Setting: A descriptive, quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted, comprising 300 congregants from a Pentecostal Christian charismatic church – Assemblies of God in KwaZulu-Natal.

Methods: A socio-demographic tool was used to capture the relevant social, demographic, and religious information. Existing self-administered questionnaires were used to collect information in four areas: Mental Health Knowledge Schedule, the Reported and Intended Behaviour Scale, Community Attitudes Towards Mentally Ill scale and the Dimensions of Religiosity Scale to determine the degree of religiosity.

Results: The population studied demonstrates high levels of mental health knowledge and a tolerant attitude towards persons who have mental illness. There is a high preference for professional treatment.

Conclusion: The high knowledge in this Christian community is associated with a reduction in stigma and a positive attitude towards mental illness. If mental health awareness is encouraged, it helps to encourage positive help-seeking practices tolerance, and treatment outcomes.

Contribution: This study highlights levels of knowledge and its influence on help-seeking practices and stigma in a Christian community.


Keywords

mental health; knowledge; attitudes; Christian community; help seeking.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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