Mental Illness Stigma Hard to Shake, Survey Finds2010-Sep-15
By -- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The level of Americans' prejudice and discrimination toward people with serious mental illness or substance abuse problems didn't change over 10 years, a new study has found.
The findings raise questions about the effectiveness of campaigns to educate people about mental illness and suggest that new approaches may be needed, said the researchers at Indiana University and Columbia University.
"Prejudice and discrimination in the U.S. aren't moving. In fact, in some cases, it may be increasing. It's time to stand back and rethink our approach," Indiana University sociologist Bernice Pescosolido said in a university news release.
She and her colleagues compared the attitudes of people in 1996 and 2006. During this period, there was a major push to make Americans more aware of the genetic and medical explanations for conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse.
About 1,956 adults who took part in the 1996 and 2006 General Social Survey listened to a short piece featuring a person who had major depression, schizophrenia or alcohol dependency, and then answered a series of questions.
Among the key findings:
The study findings were published online Sept. 15 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Efforts to reduce stigma should focus on the person rather than the disease, and emphasize the abilities of people with mental health problems, Pescosolido suggested. "We need to involve groups in each community to talk about these issues, which affect nearly every family in America in some way. This is in everyone's interest," she added.
The American Psychiatric Association has more about mental illness.
Copyright © 2010
All rights reserved.