Beliefs about Mental Illness among University Students in Egypt


  • Hani Hamed Dessoki
  • Tamer M.S. Hifnawy


Objective: To detect differences in attitudes towards psychiatric illness, regarding its nature, cause, different ways of therapy, possibility of cure and the effect on the society in two areas from different socioeconomic classes in Egypt. Method: A survey study using self administered questionnaire, to detect culture differences between students of Cairo and Beni Suef universities “Beni Suef is one of upper Egypt governorates”. All participating students were subjected to Familial Socioeconomic status scale, Beliefs about Psychiatric Illness in the Arab Culture Scale. Results: 69.8% students were females. The majority of Cairo University students were from higher socioeconomic classes (average 41% and above average 32.5%). However, the majority of Beni Suef University students were form low and below average class (13.6%, 49% respectively). Cairo University students showed higher positive attitude regarding Beliefs about Psychiatric Illness including the nature of psychiatric illness, psychiatric etiology, psychiatric management, psychiatric cure, and effect on the family than Beni Suef University students (p<.001). Females in both groups showed lower positive attitude on Attitudes Towards Psychiatric Illness in the Arab Culture Scale than males (P <.001). Conclusion: Beliefs about mental illness are highly affected by low socioeconomic status, upbringing way and beliefs in Egypt. Public education about psychiatric illnesses is highly beneficial for mental and public health professionals.