Dr Nain Tara, Dr Zoha Arshad, Dr Zareen Ashraf
Background: The rate of mental disorders is on the rise around the world and seeing this development, mental health is a priority in health policies in developed countries. Developing countries such as Pakistan however, have failed to realize the importance of providing government support towards this aspect of the health sector. As a result it is seen that there is a general lack of awareness and education towards the management of these conditions among the general public. Objective: The objective of this research is to assess the predominant viewpoint that exists towards mental illness in Pakistan by recording the prevalent knowledge, attitudes and practices among the general public. Material and Methods:Descriptive Study (Purposive). The study was conducted at Jinnah Hospital located on Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani Road, Lahore. All male and female caregivers of psychiatric patients coming to psychiatry ward and OPD Jinnah Hospital, Lahore. Caregivers of patients who were suffering from a condition other than psychiatric illness. Results: A significant percentage of caregivers (45.0%) were previously unaware of the condition that their patients were diagnosed with. More than 40.0% of the caregivers felt that the main problem they faced was psychological stress from their relatives. A large percentage (38%) of the caregivers believed in supernatural beliefs such as evil spirits, sorcery and astrological influences as the cause of psychiatric illnesses. The majority of caregivers (73%) preferred non pharmacological therapy through the help of psychologists rather than medicine (12%) and peers and fakeers (10%). Conclusions: Results of the study confirm that there is a lack of awareness and knowledge about mental illnesses seen in the general public. The presumption that there is a social stigma attached with mental illness is confirmed. Supernatural beliefs such as evil spirits, sorcery and astrological influences are common in caregivers of patients with psychiatric illnesses. Caregivers prefer non pharmacological therapy through the help of psychologists rather than medicines or peers and faqeers. Key words: Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices, Caregivers, Psychiatric patients.