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Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading cause of disability worldwide, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease, and one-third of all years lost due to disability. In Canada 15% of the population report that they have been diagnosed as being clinically depressed, with at least one in five Canadians experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime. Recruitment to psychiatry within medical schools worldwide ranges from approximately 2-7%, resulting in unfilled psychiatric residencies and an inadequate number of practicing professionals to address demand for mental health services within populations. The negative socialization hypothesis attempts to explain the lack of interest as the result of anti-psychiatry statements by peers and non-psychiatric faculty members. An international questionnaire measuring the prevalence of stigmatizing attitudes towards non-psychiatric physician educators at medical centres was conducted under the auspices of the Association for the Improvement of Mental Health Programmes. Results will be discussed within the context of current theories about stigmatizing attitudes towards psychiatric patients and the field of psychiatry. Current anti-stigma programmes and the impact of culture on mental illness and stigma will also be discussed.
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