Research Article| Volume 41, P348-353, December 2022

The relationship between beliefs toward mental illnesses, empathic tendency and social distancing in university students

Published:September 25, 2022DOI:


      • University students have low/moderate negative belief towards mental illness and think that mental illnesses are dangerous.
      • As university students' get older, their negative beliefs toward mental illness decrease.
      • As university students' empathy skills increase, their negative beliefs toward mental illness decrease.
      • As university students' tendency to social distance towards individuals with mental illness increases, their positive beliefs toward mental illnesses increase.
      • Psychiatric nurses should plan and conduct education programs on mental illnesses for university students and their families.


      This study was conducted to determine the level of beliefs toward mental illnesses in university students and to examine its relationship with empathic tendency and social distance level. This descriptive and relational study was conducted at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Nursing of a state university in Turkey. The sample of the study consisted of 678 students studying in the 4th grade of these faculties. Personal Information Form, the Beliefs Toward Mental Illness Scale (BMI), the Empathic Tendency Scale (ETS), and the Social Distance Scale (SDI) were used to collect data. It was determined that there was a high level of negative relationship between the students' mean BMI score and the age variable and the empathic tendency and social distance mean scores. It was seen that the mean Empathic Tendecy Scale and Social Distance Scale scores accounted for 86.6 % of the change in the mean BMI score (Adjusted R2 = 0.826). The mean BMI score of the students was found to be below the medium level. On the other hand, it was found that empathic tendency and social distance mean scores were above the medium level and had an effect on the mean BMI score. Psychosocial factors that are effective in the emergence of negative beliefs about mental illnesses in students should be investigated and studies should be carried out to increase awareness about negative beliefs.


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