Australian manager's attitudes to mental illness

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Recent research has criticised certain sectors of the community, including managers, for their negative altitudes to the mentally ill. Yet studies also reveal considerable confusion about the nature and status of mental illness. This study assesses the altitudes of 91 7 male and female managers to three competing views of mental illness: biological, environmental and strategic. Factor analysis confirms these factors; mental illness is judged to be: (a) not an illness but a way of acting; (b) caused by environmental conditioning; or (c) a disease of the brain. Female managers are more inclined to support the biological and environmental views, whiist male managers are more likely to support the strategic view. It is argued that none of these views is consistent with the notion of mental illness since (a) denies the existence of illness, (b) emphasises behavioural abnormalities, and (c) insists that mental illness is physical illness. It is concluded that the phrase "mental iliness" generates unnecessary confusion which has been reflected in research findings and management practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999


  • attitudes
  • mental illness
  • managers


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