Skip to content

Trends in Public Stigma of Mental Illness in the US, 1996-2018 PMC

    Stigma may lead to difficulty seeking treatment or even following through with treatment. And some people may experience increased symptoms of their condition, or even develop new ones — like anxiety or depression — because of experiencing stigma. According to the researchers, less than 20% of the men who were referred to mental healthcare from the clinic continued to receive the recommended care — often as a result of increased social and professional stigma for men to go without mental healthcare of any kind. According to the study results, from roughly 1996 to 2006, people became more knowledgeable about mental health — including acknowledging differences between daily experiences and symptoms of diagnosable conditions. And that should come as no surprise, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health condition.

    People with mental disorders have been blamed, vilified, and ostracized throughout human history. While attitudes about mental illness, and treatment for those conditions, have improved dramatically over the last century, stigma has not disappeared. Yet individuals, organizations, and societies are continuing to address mental health stigma and its consequences. Although problem recognition increased only for schizophrenia in the first period and for alcohol dependence only in the second period, the levels were high for all mental illnesses. No change was documented for depression, with recognition already high, or for the control, in which depression was considered not warranted, signaling a distinct difference in the public response to nonclinical problems (Figure 1A). Mental health stigma can have a hugely negative impact on the lives of people living with mental health conditions.

    1. Contact-based interventions have demonstrated the clearest evidence in reducing stigmatising attitudes, desire for social distancing and discrimination [31,32,33].
    2. There can be practical ramifications as well; for example, internalized stigma may stop someone from applying for a job because they don’t believe they are capable.
    3. Significantly fewer respondents cited ups and downs as a cause of depression or selected God’s will.
    4. And that should come as no surprise, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health condition.

    The participants commented that in contrast to the recent advances in efforts to raise mental health awareness, workplaces were especially lagging in this regard, and overt stigmatisation continues to occur in workplaces. Legislative measures were also recommended to combat stigma and discrimination in this setting (this will be further elaborated in the fourth theme). When Dr Ahmed Hankir first experienced extreme psychological distress as a medical student in the United Kingdom in 2006, he delayed seeking help due to the shame and stigma of having a mental health condition. Persons with psychosocial disabilities frequently face stigma, discrimination and rights violations, including within and from the medical community, which reflects broader societal stigma. One doctor relates his personal experience here and how he uses it today to challenge stigma.

    Subgroup and Temporal Differences

    Notwithstanding these limitations, this study is one of a few studies in Singapore to have obtained inputs on stigma reduction from the perspectives of those who have been stigmatised. While several positive steps have been taken towards de-stigmatisation, evaluation efforts for these initiatives are currently lacking. It is recommended that scientifically rigorous evaluations of these efforts be undertaken so that outcomes can be tested, and the initiatives can be continually improved. Further, PWLE should be included in future anti-stigma research as well as in the evaluation of these campaigns and programmes. They also did not wish for others to take pity on them or treat them differently on account of their mental illness but to instead be supportive in their recovery.

    The FGDs were conducted in a closed room that was relatively free from distractions in a community club, which was chosen because it is a neutral venue. Each FGD was conducted by two study team members, who served as the facilitator or the note taker for the day. The facilitators (either MS or SS) were trained and experienced in qualitative research methodologies. A stigma is a negative and often unfair social attitude attached to a person or group, often placing shame on them for a perceived deficiency or difference to their existence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental illness is among the most common health conditions in the United States. One of the things that bothers me is how much effort has been put toward eradicating stigma through education and awareness, like public service announcements and commercials.

    Ayalon and Areán’s (2004) study on older adults in an Arab cultural context found that men reported higher levels of perceived stigma related to mental illness than women [14]. This discrepancy might be rooted in traditional masculine norms prevalent in many Arab societies, which value strength, stoicism, and emotional control. Mental illness, which is often erroneously perceived as a sign of emotional weakness or lack of control, can be particularly stigmatizing for men in these contexts.

    What Is Stigma?

    Furthermore, to complicate matters, discrimination can further strain personal relationships, as friends and family may distance themselves due to discomfort, fear, or misunderstanding, exacerbating feelings of isolation and loneliness [9]. The participants in the study commented that mental health awareness has increased in Singapore in the past couple of years, but these advancements have not caught on as quickly, particularly in workplaces. A significant proportion of PWLE remain unemployed despite their desire and ability to work [64]. At the time when the data were collected, mental illness declarations were still a part of job application processes. In the FGDs, the participants zealously urged for this practice to be put to an end, as it impeded their employability and career ambitions. Further to the removal of this declaration, they suggested that support schemes should be offered to employers for hiring people with mental illnesses.

    Anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker explores the roots of stigma in his new book.

    We found respondents’ attitudes toward mental illness were more accepting in some cases (eg, depression), but less accepting in others (eg, schizophrenia). Even for depression, in which change was found across social venues, the degree to which that happens varied greatly. If findings were an artifact of a simple sample selection process, we would not expect to observe this level of complexity. Trends over time would be more consistent across conditions, and differences between social domains would be less pronounced. Although the participants called for the removal of mental illness declarations on application forms, they preferred to be truthful about their condition, as they feared being discovered if they had lied to increase their chances of employment.

    Individuals or groups can apply stigma to those who live a certain way, have certain cultural beliefs or make lifestyle choices, or to people living with health conditions, such as mental illnesses. Older individuals in each period were significantly liberty cap gills more unwilling to have the vignette person marry into the family. In addition, more individuals with lower levels of education endorsed stigma in the most recent period (neighbor) and the middle period (marriage into the family).

    A systematic review found that self-stigma interventions are generally effective in reducing internalized stigma, and they take the form of group-based programs that involve psychoeducation, cognitive behavioral theory, and disclosure-focused exercises. Two examples of treatments that target internalized stigma are narrative enhancement and cognitive therapy and coming out proud. Public education to increase knowledge around mental illness is paramount, since the majority of stigma comes from a lack of understanding and misplaced fear. Keep reading to explore mental health stigma, its effects, and what people can do to overcome them. Given how common it is for people to experience a decline in mental health, the level of stigma that exists in society is surprising and often contradictory. When I started working on autism in South Korea in the early 2000s, nobody would talk about mental illnesses.

    Many people are also becoming more open to the idea of sharing their personal experiences. At the individual level, a person with a mental health illness can get actively involved in their treatment. They could also consider getting an advocate if they feel that stigma impacts their ability to navigate day-to-day circumstances, such as employment, housing, or healthcare. When capitalism took hold, we started to value individual autonomy and productivity for everybody.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *