Is mental health education really needed?

Dowding, Kerryn, Ash, Susan, & Shakespeare-Finch, Jane E. (2012) Is mental health education really needed? Nutrition and Dietetics, 69(S1), p. 85.

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Dietitians play a key role in supporting and advocating for the physical health care of mental health (MH) consumers, with 68-80% seeing clients with associated depression issues in Australia. The DAA Mental Health Curricula Project found dietetic training in MH was inadequate and recommended increased MH education. A MH resource package was developed and sent to universities in 2010 for incorporation into teaching. The aim of this study was to assess dietetic students’ baseline MH knowledge, attitudes and exposure prior to dietetics coursework and package implementation. An online survey measured dietetic students’ mental health knowledge (MHK), attitudes towards mental illness (MHA) and previous exposure to mental illness. MHK was assessed by sixteen dietetics-specific questions. MHA were measured by Day’s Mental Illness Stigma Scale. Exposure was assessed using an adapted version of Eack’s Social Work Students’ Experiences with Schizophrenia questions. Fifty-nine dietetic students (30% response rate) from two universities were surveyed at the beginning of dietetic coursework. Survey responses revealed students had low MHK (mean 5.48, scale 0-16) with no significant difference between cohorts (p=0.67). Half of respondents (n=31) recorded never or rarely being in contact with people with mental illness. 82% of respondents (n=48) reported having no or little experience with mental illness. Data suggests low levels of sitgmatising attitudes about people with mental illness. Given the high prevalence of clients with MH issues in everyday dietetic practice, this study is a first step in addressing integration of MH education into dietetics training.

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ID Code: 55538
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10:1111/j.1747.0080.2012.01609.x
ISSN: 1747-0080 (online) 1446-6368 (print)
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Mental Health (111714)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Dietitians Assocation of Australia.
Deposited On: 12 Dec 2012 03:43
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2013 21:21

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