“Perception of Mental Illness Affects Stigmatizing Attitudes”

I received this in my inbox today and felt it was a timely email.  I received it from SAMHSA’s CMHS Consumer listserv and it discusses stigmas and stereotyping based on perceptions people have.

_________________________________________________________________

CMHS CONSUMER AFFAIRS E-NEWS 9 SEPTEMBER 2008

___________________________________________________

Perception of Mental Illness Affects Stigmatizing Attitudes

By Andrew Czyzewski

05 September 2008

Acta Psychiatr Scand 2008; Advance online publication

MedWire News: Perceiving mental disorders as “real medical illnesses” reduces stigmatizing attitudes among the general public, as does having had contact with a person suffering from a mental disorder, study results suggest.

By contrast, members of the public who believe mental disorders are a result of weakness of character are more likely than others to show stigmatizing attitudes, report A Jorm (University of Melbourne, Australia) and K Griffiths (The Australian National University, Canberra).

Previous studies on this topic have suggested that prejudice increases when the public are given biogenetic causal explanations for mental disorders, such as when schizophrenia is promoted as “an illness like any other.”

Arguing instead that stigmatizing attitudes are multi-faceted, the researchers conducted a survey among 3998 Australian adults to gather information on mental illness perception.

On a random basis, respondents were shown one of four vignettes: a person with early schizophrenia, one with chronic schizophrenia, one with major depression and one with major depression together with suicidal thoughts, but without these labels being assigned.

Participants were then asked whether they could identify the condition in question, what they believed were possible causes of the condition, whether it should be considered a “real medical illness,” and whether they had ever had contact with a sufferer (through friends, family, work etc).

In addition, participants were asked if they would be willing to make social contact with the person in the vignette.

The chronic schizophrenia vignette was responded to with the least willingness to make social contact and the depression vignette the greatest.

Participants who had had past contact with someone with a mental health disorder showed a greater willingness to socially engage with the person in the vignette, as did those who thought that the vignette was a “real medical illness.”

Participants who believed that the root cause of the vignette in question was the death of someone close showed a greater willingness to socially engage, while those who thought that weakness of character was the cause of the condition were less likely to engage.

Jorm and Griffiths comment in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica: “Biomedical conceptualizations are not the major cause of stigma, rather it is the behaviour associated with mental illness and the belief that this is because of personal weakness.”

They add: “The aim in promoting recognition of mental disorders by the public and their conceptualization as treatable illnesses is to promote earlier uptake of treatment and to reduce the person’s disability, with a consequent flow-on of reduced prejudice and discrimination.”

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Anti-stigma, Issues, Mental Health, Mental Illness, SAMHSA
One comment on ““Perception of Mental Illness Affects Stigmatizing Attitudes”
  1. bippidee says:

    no surprise there to me. ever since i received the borderline personality diagnosis i’ve been stigmatised, mostly from health professionals who should know better. But here in the UK, BPD is not recognised as a mental illness. Not sure if it’s different in the US? Now the mood swings and depression are suddenly ‘your own fault’ because of who you are. Doesn’t do much for the self esteem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Thank you to our ...
  • 109,431 readers since November 2007
September 2008
S M T W T F S
« Aug   Oct »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  
Follow Pennsylvania Mental Health Issues on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 444 other followers

PAMHI Archives
Topic Categories
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 444 other followers

%d bloggers like this: