Monday, May 13, 2013

Mental Illness Stigma a Global Concern, International Study Finds

How do people throughout the world view depression or schizophrenia? A survey undertaken in 16 countries found that people generally consider both illnesses as having a biological basis, not to be the result of a bad character, bad luck, or God's will. But the survey also found that people across the globe tend to hold similarly negative views of individuals who have these illnesses, especially schizophrenia. For example, the researchers found that people are apt to not like the idea of individuals with a mental illness holding positions of authority or power, taking care of their children, or marrying into their family. They also tend to feel uneasy about how to interact with such individuals and to fear that such individuals might act violently.

"If the public understands that mental illnesses are medical problems, but still reject individuals with mental illness, then educational campaigns directed toward ensuring inclusion become more salient," Bernice Pescosolido, Ph.D., an Indiana University sociologist, and colleagues conclude in their report, which is published in the May American Journal of Public Health.

To learn more about people's perceptions of mental illness in Britain and Australia, as well as efforts to counter stigma against mental illness and the people who suffer from it, see Psychiatric News here and here.

(Image: Maxx-Studio/


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