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Stigma and mental illness

There is a good article in the August 20th, 2004 issue of Psychiatric Times reporting on a survey done in Houston which shows that stigma towards people suffering from psychiatric disorders is on the decline.

According to a survey of 650 Houston-area residents conducted last spring by the Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston, 63 percent believe mental illness is primarily due to a brain disorder, while just 5 percent believe it is due to a character flaw.

The remainder of respondents attributed mental illness to "something else," including a genetic disorder (10 percent), the person's home environment (9 percent), a chemical imbalance (5 percent), or stress (5 percent), among other variables.

In addition, 86 percent of people surveyed said they believed that health insurance companies should be required to cover mental health treatment in the same way they do other illnesses.

Here is a good chart which shows the difference in attitudes between respondents who personally know someone suffering from a mental illness as compared to people with no personal knowledge. People with personal knowledge are much more likely to be supportive of less stigma.




Since my complete mental breakdown 17 years ago, I have been a very vocal proponent of removing the stigma associated with mental illness.

I'll never forget my first encounter with the "attitude". I was discussing my experience with a co-worker, who promptly took me asides and warned me that I should be careful who I shared that with. HUH? I'd been to hell and back. Believe me, there was nothing anyone in the corporation could do to me that would equal one day in Depression Hell.

The only way people are going to get help is if they understand there is no shame involved.

My alter ego Ruby posted on this subject just today. Check out the link above.

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