Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mental illness stigma entrenched in American culture; new strategies needed

15.09.2010
A joint study by Indiana University and Columbia University researchers found no change in prejudice and discrimination toward people with serious mental illness or substance abuse problems despite a greater embrace by the public of neurobiological explanations for these illnesses.

The study, published online Sept. 15 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, raises vexing questions about the effectiveness of campaigns designed to improve health literacy. This "disease like any other" approach, supported by medicine and mental health advocates, had been seen as the primary way to reduce widespread stigma in the United States.

"Prejudice and discrimination in the U.S. aren't moving," said IU sociologist Bernice Pescosolido, a leading researcher in this area. "In fact, in some cases, it may be increasing. It's time to stand back and rethink our approach."

Stigma, the well-documented reluctance by many to socialize or work with people who have a mental or substance abuse disorder, is considered a major obstacle to effective treatment for many Americans who experience these devastating illnesses. It can produce discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and negatively impact the quality of life for these individuals, their families and friends.

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the study examined whether American attitudes concerning mental illness have changed during a 10-year period when efforts on many levels and by many groups focused on making Americans aware of the genetic and medical explanations for depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse. While Americans reported more acceptance of these explanations, this did nothing to change prejudice and discrimination, and in some cases, made it worse.

The study involved questions posed to a nationally representative sample of adults as part of the General Social Survey (GSS), a biennial survey that involves face-to-face interviews. Around 1,956 adults in the 1996 and 2006 GSS first listened to a vignette involving a person who had major depression, schizophrenia or alcohol dependency, and then they answered a series of questions.

Some key findings include:

In 2006, 67 percent of the public attributed major depression to neurobiological causes, compared with 54 percent in 1996.

High proportions of respondents supported treatment with overall increases in the proportion endorsing treatment from a doctor, and more specifically from psychiatrists, for treatment of alcohol dependence (79 percent in 2006 compared to 61 percent in 1996) and major depression (85 percent in 2006 compared to 75 percent in 1996).

Holding a belief in neurobiological causes for these disorders increased the likelihood of support for treatment but was generally unrelated to stigma. Where associated, the effect was to increase, not decrease, community rejection of the person described in the vignettes.

Pescosolido said the team's comparative study provides real data for the first time on whether the "landscape for prejudice for people with mental illness" is changing. It reinforces conversations begun by influential institutions, such as the Carter Center, about the need for a new approach toward combating stigma.

"Often mental health advocates end up singing to the choir," Pescosolido said. "We need to involve groups in each community to talk about these issues which affect nearly every family in American in some way. This is in everyone's interest."

The research article suggests that stigma reduction efforts focus on the person rather than on the disease, and emphasize the abilities and competencies of people with mental health problems. Pescosolido says well-established civic groups -- groups normally not involved with mental health issues -- could be very effective in making people aware of the need for inclusion and the importance of increasing the dignity and rights of citizenship for persons with mental illnesses.

For a copy of the study or for an interview with lead author Pescosolido, please contact Alex Capshew at acapshew@indiana.edu and 812-855-6256.

Co-authors include Jack K. Martin, Schuessler Institute for Social Research at IU; J. Scott Long and Tait R. Medina, Department of Sociology in IU's College of Arts and Sciences; and Jo C. Phelan and Bruce G. Link, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Alex Capshew | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.indiana.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>