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Original Papers

Stigma related to mental health issues – a study among adolescents in Sri Lanka


U. R. Attygalle ,

Colombo South Teaching Hospital Kalubowila, LK
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H. Perera,

University of Colombo, LK
About H.
Formally of the Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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B. D. W. Jayamanne

University of Kelaniya, LK
About B. D. W.
Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine
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It is well known that stigma is a key contributory factor for delayed help seeking in mental health issues. This in turn has led to poor outcomes amongst those who suffer from mental health issues. In Sri Lanka, large studies on stigma amongst adolescents are limited.



This study aims to describe the attributes of stigma in relation to selected mental health issues amongst adolescents.



This is a descriptive cross-sectional study focusing on data collected from 1002 adolescents. The data was collected using a questionnaire based on the Children's Attribution Questionnaire (AQ-8-C). Case vignettes depicting depression with suicidal ideation, social phobia, psychosis and a physical health issue, namely diabetes, was used.



The study revealed that the likelihood of providing help was significantly higher with regards to mental health issues compared to diabetes (p<0.001), while the likelihood of avoiding a mental health patient was higher in psychosis compared to the other vignettes (p<0.001).


Those with a personal or family history of mental health issues had a higher tendency of avoiding or being angered by such patients, or considering the person in the mental health vignette to be dangerous (p<0.05).



Adolescents in this cohort stated they were more likely to help in the case of a person with a mental health issue, compared to someone with diabetes. They were more likely to stay away from those with psychosis, compared to those with other mental health issues. Exposure to mental health issues did not appear to lower the stigma associated with these disorders.
How to Cite: Attygalle, U.R., Perera, H. and Jayamanne, B.D.W., 2020. Stigma related to mental health issues – a study among adolescents in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry, 11(1), pp.8–13. DOI:
Published on 18 Jun 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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