Mental illness and stigma in South Africa

The Mental Health Information Centre (MHIC) is a call centre based at the Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University and provides information on mental health and illness to callers.  We are currently conducting a study to assess both patients’ and their significant others’ experiences of stigma due to mental illness.  In this context, stigmatization refers to the process where someone is being branded and being discriminated against because of his/her mental illness (or that of their significant others). The MHIC believes that a better understanding of stigma and consequent discrimination will lead to a reduction thereof and to a better outcome for patients and their families.
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PARTICIPANT INFORMATION AND CONSENT FORM
 
Invitation to take part in a research project
You are being invited to take part in a research project.  Please take some time to read the information presented here, which will explain the details of this project.  Please feel free to ask the study staff any questions about any part of this project that you do not fully understand.  It is very important that you are fully satisfied that you clearly understand what this research entails and how you could be involved.  Also, your participation is entirely voluntary and you are free to decline to participate.  If you say no, this will not affect you negatively in any way whatsoever. You are also free to withdraw from the study at any point, even if you did agree to take part initially.

This study has been approved by the Health Research Ethics Committee (HREC) at Stellenbosch University and will be conducted according to the ethical guidelines and principles of the international Declaration of Helsinki, South African Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Ethical Guidelines for Research.

What is this research study all about?
The MHIC is a call centre at the Department of Psychiatry of Stellenbosch University and provides information on mental illness to callers.  People who have contacted the call centre – which include patients with reported anxiety, mood and substance related conditions, and family members and significant others of such patients – will be invited to participate.  Participants in other anxiety related research at the MRC Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders and their family members or significant others will also be invited to participate.The project aims to assess both the patients’ and significant others’ experience of stigma due to mental illness.  In this context, stigmatization refers to the process where someone is being branded and being discriminated against because of his/her mental illness.  The MHIC believes that a better understanding of stigma and consequent discrimination will lead to a reduction thereof and to a better outcome for patients and their families. Participants will be asked to read the consent form carefully and click on the consent button, where after they will be asked to fill in their demographic details, and complete the 28-item stigma questionnaire.

Why have you been invited to participate?
You have been invited to participate in this study due to the fact that you reported that you, a family member or a significant other of yours has been diagnosed with a mood, anxiety or substance use disorder. We believe that your experience of stigmatization (or not), may make a significant contribution to our research.

What will your responsibilities be?
As a participant you will be expected to read the information regarding the research project carefully, click on the consent button, and complete the demographic form and stigma questionnaire.  After you have answered all the relevant questions, please click to submit your responses.

Will you benefit from taking part in this research?
You may not benefit directly from taking part in the study, but you will be making a significant contribution towards our understanding of the relationship between mental illness, stigma and discrimination.  Awareness of these facts will hopefully lead to increased understanding and empathy for these individuals in our community. 

Are there in risks involved in your taking part in this research?
There are no risks involved in taking part in this study.

Who will have access to your information?
All information collected will be treated as confidential and protected. Information collected from you will be entered into a computer database. Your name and other personal identifying information (e.g. address, telephone number) will not be entered into this database in order to keep your information anonymous. If the information is used in a publication, your identity will remain anonymous.  The findings of the study will be written up and submitted for publication to a medical journal and to magazines as well.  Only the research team, mentioned above, will have access to the information.  

Will you be paid to take part in this study and are there any costs involved?
You will not be paid to take part in the study. If you are only able to complete the form via mail, a return envelope will be provided. There will be no costs involved for you, if you do take part.

Is there any thing else that you should know or do?
You can contact Ms Janine Roos on tel (021) 938 9229 if you have any further queries or encounter any problems.  You can also contact the Health Research Ethics Committee at 021-938 9207 if you have any concerns or complaints.

By choosing the "Yes" option below you agree to take part in this research study entitled “Mental illness and stigma in South Africa”, and that you understand the information above.
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