Nursing Students' Attitudes Towards People Diagnosed with Mental Illness and Mental Health Nursing: An International Project from Europe and Australia

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2018 Oct;39(10):829-839. doi: 10.1080/01612840.2018.1489921. Epub 2018 Oct 22.


The stigma associated with a diagnosis of mental illness is well known yet has not reduced significantly in recent years. Health professionals, including nurses, have been found to share similar negative attitudes towards people with labelled with mental illness as the general public. The low uptake of mental health nursing as a career option reflects these stigmatised views and is generally regarded as one of the least popular areas of in which to establish a nursing career. The aim of the current project was to examine nursing students' attitudes towards the concept of mental illness and mental health nursing across four European countries (Ireland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands), and Australia, using the Opening Minds Scale and the Mental Health Nurse Education survey. The surveys were distributed to students prior to the commencement of the mental health theory component. Attitudes towards mental health nursing were generally favourable. Differences in opinion were evident in attitudes towards mental illness as a construct; with students from Australia and Ireland tending to have more positive attitudes than students from Finland, Norway and the Netherlands. The future quality of mental health services is dependent on attracting sufficient nurses with the desire, knowledge and attitudes to work in mental health settings. Understanding attitudes towards mental illness and mental health nursing is essential to achieving this aim.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Career Choice
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / nursing*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Nursing / education*
  • Social Stigma
  • Students, Nursing / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult