Mental health support workers attitudes towards hepatitis c and injecting drug use: Barriers to recovery?

Loren Brener*, Grenville Rose, Carla Treloar, Elena J. Cama, Melanie Whiticker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

People with a mental illness may be at increased risk of acquiring blood borne viruses, such as hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is highly stigmatized, largely as a result of its association with injecting drug use. Mental illness is also stigmatized and hence people with a mental illness and hepatitis C may face a type of double stigma. This study explored the impact of hepatitis C-related stigma on care and support for people with a mental illness. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted with 117 mental health support workers from a community managed organisation. Surveys assessed support workers' attitudes towards hepatitis C and people who inject, and whether these attitudes influence support workers' level of comfort with and perceived capability in working with clients who have hepatitis C and a mental illness. Surveys also investigated support workers' feelings about recovery in relation to clients with a mental illness who also have hepatitis C. Data indicate that workers attitudes towards people with hepatitis C and people who inject drugs were not related to feelings about their own capabilities or to client recovery. Attitudes towards people who inject were related to the level of comfort support workers felt in working in the client's home. This is important for community outreach services as counselling is often home-based. Mental health support workers are in an ideal position to assist clients with hepatitis C. There is a need upskill support workers to enable them to feel more comfortable working with clients with hepatitis C with the ultimate aim of lessening this additional burden of disease on those also coping with a mental illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalMental Health and Substance Use: Dual Diagnosis
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • community-based care
  • hepatitis C
  • injecting drug use
  • knowledge
  • mental illness

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