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Student
Title
Supervisor
Faculty
Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Karine Nersessova
Differences in Beliefs and Attitudes Toward Depression and Schizophrenia in Russia and USA
Applied Social Psychology
(Master’s programme)
2018
Studies show that poor mental health literacy and negative attitudes toward people suffering from mental illness are key barriers to mental help-seeking. Research suggests that considerable differences in beliefs and attitudes exist between how laypeople perceive mental disorders, particularly Depression and Schizophrenia. Further, cross-cultural studies show that culture plays a role in shaping people’s understanding of mental illnesses. In the present study, we compared individuals’ beliefs and attitudes toward depression and schizophrenia in Russia and the US. Our findings indicate that Depression is seen as a reaction to psychosocial stress while Schizophrenia to biological factors. Depression was seen to be best overcome with the support of a trusted friend, followed by with the help of professionals. Surprisingly, our research showed that Russians would seek professional help before lay-help for both disorders, just as Americans. People from both countries considered those suffering from schizophrenia to be unpredictable and dangerous. Despite these similarities, there were cultural differences in attitudes toward the disorders. Russian participants viewed those with depression as weak-willed and leading an immoral lifestyle. Overall, findings are similar to previous studies, but show some improvement in professional help-seeking attitudes in Russian participants. This demonstrates that cultural factors must not be overlooked when talking about the public’s knowledge of mental illnesses.

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