Stigmatizing attitudes towards individuals with mental illness in Hong Kong: Implications for their recovery

Wing Hong Hector Tsang, Phidias K.C. Tam, Fong Chan, W. M. Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


The literature suggests that stigmatizing attitudes in the community will affect lives and recovery of people with mental illness. This is particularly serious and obvious in Chinese societies where mental illness is often associated with shame and stigma. As Hong Kong and China have undergone rapid changes in terms of social and economic development, this study aimed at providing the most up-to-date empirical information regarding mental illness stigma and its impact on individuals with mental illness. A 31-item Questionnaire on Mental Illness was developed to measure public attitudes towards mental illness, with special reference to issues that affected the burden on family members of mental health consumers. The questionnaire together with the Level of Contact Sub-scale (Holmes et al., 1999) was distributed to primary and secondary students for their friends and relatives aged 16 or above to complete. A total of 1,007 validly completed questionnaires were returned constituting a response rate of 74%. An exploratory factor analysis identified eight factors which accounted for 50.6% of the total variance: hostility, aberrant, openness, resources, acceptance, rights, misgivings, and accommodation. The data showed that there were rather severe stigmatizing attitudes in the community, such as beliefs about parents causing the illness, strong opposition to setting up psychiatric community facilities near their residence, and limited employment opportunities for people with mental illness, which also increased both the subjective and objective burdens on clients' relatives by denying them social and practical support. Correlations between previous contacts and attitudes are significant. Implications to further research and social policy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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