Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Original Article

Stigmatizing Attitudes towards Mental Illness among University Students: a Comparative Study with the General Population

Beatriz Atienza-Carbonell, Vicent Balanzá-Martínez, Alberto Bermejo-Franco, Laura Carrascosa-Iranzo

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The aim of this study is to compare stigmatizing attitudes, reported and intended behavior, and knowledge of mental illness between university students and the general population.

An online cross-sectional observational study was conducted. The survey included socio-demographic data and validated stigma questionnaires (AQ-27, RIBS, and MAKS). Descriptive, bivariate analyses and multiple regression modeling were employed to analyze the data.

A total of 506 participants completed the survey, including 226 (44.7%) university students (61.1% women) and 280 (55.3%) individuals from the general population (69.3% women). For both groups, women and individuals who had lived with someone with mental health problems exhibited more positive attitudes (p < 0.05). University students reported greater knowledge of mental illness (p < 0.05) than the general population. After controlling for covariates, university students only scored higher than the general population in the blame factor of AQ-27 (p < 0.05). Additionally, older participants from both groups exhibited higher levels of stigmatizing attitudes compared to those of a younger age.

These findings suggest that university students exhibit similar levels of stigmatizing attitudes to the general population. Among both groups, female sex, older age, previous contact with individuals with mental illness, and greater knowledge of mental health are all associated with less stigma toward people with mental illness. Tailored interventions grounded in contact with mental illness have the potential to help reduce stigmatizing attitudes within both groups.


Social stigma, attitudes, mental disorders, university students

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