Date of Award

Summer 2002

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Mental health providers devote their professional lives to the care of individuals in emotional distress. Despite the multiple demands and challenges faced in the course of their duties, these individuals constantly strive to recognize the dignity and worth of those they serve. As a result, not only are mental health professionals generally more accepting of and egalitarian towards the mentally ill compared to the public but also compared to other experts in service-related professions. The display of enlightened and positive attitudes by mental health professionals is to some extent expected. These individuals have chosen to enter the profession and they also benefit from years of training. However, despite the generally favorable attitudes and behaviors that exist, recognition must also be given to reports of negative perceptions and even blatant prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behavior by some providers of mental health services. The study of attitudes held by mental health professionals is an important area of investigation due to the adverse effects that negative attitudes have on consumers of mental health services. Negative attitudes held by professionals affect consumers to the extent that such attitudes influence treatment decisions, treatment effectiveness, and the quality of care received. Negative perceptions and behavior may even contribute to the reluctance felt by some mentally ill individuals to seek help. Thus, the examination of attitudes held by mental health experts is not only warranted but necessary in order to uphold the tenets of the helping professions and to ensure that high standards of professional practice are maintained...



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