Medical faculty students' beliefs toward mental illness and the impact of visiting a community mental health center on these beliefs
Objective: Doctors' beliefs about mental illness and approaches to them are important in the prevention as well as for an accurate diagnosis of mental disorders and the provision of treatment. For this reason, identifying the thoughts and behavioral inclinations of medical students needs to be taken seriously. The purpose of the current study is to determine beliefs of Medical Faculty students about mental illness. The study also aims to identify the relationship between the effects of visiting Community Mental Health Centers and the stigmatization of mental illnesses by medical faculty students. Method: The study was conducted with 153 students from Kocaeli University Medical Faculty during the academic year 2017-2018, including groups from grade 1 (n=25), grade 2 (n=16), grade 3 (n=21), grade 4 (n=14), and the first three intern groups from grade 5 (n=77). A Sociodemographic Form was administered and the Beliefs Toward Mental Illness (BMI) scale was completed by the participants. Results: In the study, the participants were divided into three groups: Group 1 (grades 1 and 2), Group 2 (grades 3 and 4), and Group 3 (grade 5). There was no statistically significant difference between the three participant groups for any of the subscales of the BMI. After the visit to the Community Mental Health Center, a statistically significant decrease in the scores for the "dangerousness" subscale of the BMI was found in Group 3. In addition, there was a negative correlation between income status and "dangerousness" subscale. Conclusion: The study demonstrated that it can be beneficial for prospective medical graduates to come into contact with patients who after attending rehabilitation centers are showing partial improvement in their health. Moreover, this activity can assist in changing the negative perception and behaviors of medical students toward persons with a mental illness. Our research suggests that this activity could be included in the Medical School curriculum.