Contents: Community mental health literacy is important in dealing with mental illness to improve related attitudes and correct false beliefs.
Aim: To compare the beliefs and attitudes towards mental illness between rural and urban male adolescents in Beni-Suef Governorate.
Methods: A comparative cross-sectional study was carried out in governmental secondary schools for males in urban and rural areas in the Beni-Suef governorate. It included 360 adolescents from urban areas and 180 from rural areas selected from a random sample of ten schools in urban areas and five schools in rural areas. A self-administered questionnaire, including a scale for the Beliefs about Mental Illness and a scale for Attitude toward Mental Illness, was used for data collection. The fieldwork lasted from February to May 2019.
Results: The median age was 14.0 years in both groups, with more illiterate parents in the rural sample. Significantly adolescents from rural areas were aware of mental illness about two-thirds (66.1%) and had read about it (91.7%). Adolescents in both samples had low scores of stigma beliefs and negative attitudes towards mental illness. The adolescents in the urban sample had significantly higher total beliefs (p=0.006) and a negative attitude (p=0.005). A higher percentage of urban adolescents had a high stigma belief (18.3%) and negative attitude (39.2%) compared to those in rural areas, 8.9%, and 29.4%, respectively. The multivariate analysis identified rural residence as an independent significant negative predictor of adolescent's stigmatization belief score.
Conclusion: Adolescents from urban or rural areas in Beni-Suef Governorate differ in their beliefs and attitudes towards mental illness, with more stigmatization among those from urban settings. School-based educational interventions are recommended to improve adolescents’ attitudes towards mental illness, with studies evaluating their effectiveness.