0
Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Articles   |    
Conceptions of Mental Illness: Attitudes of Mental Health Professionals and the General Public
Jennifer P. Stuber, Ph.D.; Anita Rocha; Ann Christian; Bruce G. Link, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300136
View Author and Article Information

Dr. Stuber and Ms. Rocha are with the School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle (e-mail: jstuber@u.washington.edu). Ms. Christian is with the Washington Community Mental Health Council, Seattle. Dr. Link is with the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City.

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association

Abstract

Objectives  The authors compared attitudes of the U.S. general public and of mental health professionals about the competence and perceived dangerousness of people with mental health problems and the desire for social distance from them. Factors related to negative attitudes and the desire for social distance also were examined.

Methods  Vignettes describing individuals meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depression and schizophrenia were included in the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS) and a 2009 study of mental health professionals, and responses were descriptively compared (GSS, N=397 responses to depression vignette, N=373 responses to schizophrenia vignette; 731 mental health professionals responded to both vignettes). Regression analyses examined whether demographic and provider characteristics were associated with perceptions of less competence and perceived dangerousness of the vignette character and with respondents’ desire for social distance.

Results  Compared with the American public, mental health professionals had significantly more positive attitudes toward people with mental health problems. However, some providers’ conceptions about the dangerousness of people with schizophrenia and provider desire for social distance from clients in work and personal situations were concerning. Younger age, self-identifying as non-Hispanic white, being female, having at least a four-year college degree, being familiar with mental illness, and certain job titles and more years of experience in the mental health field were predictive of more positive conceptions.

Conclusions  Although mental health professionals held more positive attitudes than the general public about people with mental health problems, strong stereotypes persisted in both groups, especially concerning schizophrenia. This study identified several demographic and provider characteristics that can inform intervention strategies in both groups.

Abstract Teaser
Figures in this Article

Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
 
Username
Password
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).

Figure 1 Attitudes of Washington State mental health professionals and the general population toward vignette character with depressiona

a Respondents to the 2006 General Social Survey constituted the general population sample. The 95% confidence intervals (error bars) were computed separately for each proportion within its sample to facilitate informal comparison.

Figure 2 Attitudes of Washington State mental health professionals and the general population toward vignette character with schizophreniaa

a Respondents to the 2006 General Social Survey constituted the general population sample. The 95% confidence intervals (error bars) were computed separately for each proportion within its sample to facilitate informal comparison.

Anchor for Jump
Table 1Multivariate associations between demographic and other characteristics and conceptions of depression between mental health professionals and the general public
Anchor for Jump
Table 2Multivariate associations between demographic and provider characteristics and conceptions of schizophrenia between mental health professionals and the general public
+

References

Angermeyer  MC;  Dietrich  S:  Public beliefs about and attitudes towards people with mental illness: a review of population studies.  Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 113:163–179, 2006
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Pescosolido  BA;  Martin  JK;  Long  JS  et al:  “A disease like any other”? A decade of change in public reactions to schizophrenia, depression, and alcohol dependence.  American Journal of Psychiatry 167:1321–1330, 2010
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Link  BG;  Cullen  FT;  Struening  EL  et al:  A modified labeling theory approach to mental disorders: an empirical assessment.  American Sociological Review 54:400–423, 1989
[CrossRef]
 
Corrigan  P:  The impact of stigma on severe mental illness.  Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 5:201–222, 1989
[CrossRef]
 
Rosenfeld  S;  Wenzel  S:  Social networks and chronic mental illness: a test of four perspectives.  Social Problems 44:200–216, 1997
[CrossRef]
 
Thornicroft  G;  Brohan  E;  Rose  D  et al:  Global pattern of experienced and anticipated discrimination against people with schizophrenia: a cross-sectional survey.  Lancet 373:408–415, 2009
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Wahl  OF:  Mental health consumers’ experience of stigma.  Schizophrenia Bulletin 25:467–478, 1999
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Livingston  JD;  Boyd  JE:  Correlates and consequences of internalized stigma for people living with mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Social Science and Medicine 71:2150–2161, 2010
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Diala  C;  Muntaner  C;  Walrath  C  et al:  Racial differences in attitudes toward professional mental health care and in the use of services.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 70:455–464, 2000
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Conner  KO;  Copeland  VC;  Grote  NK  et al:  Mental health treatment seeking among older adults with depression: the impact of stigma and race.  American Journal of Psychiatry 18:531–543, 2010
[CrossRef]
 
Corrigan  PW;  Watson  AC;  Warpinski  AC  et al:  Stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness and allocation of resources to mental health services.  Community Mental Health Journal 40:297–307, 2004
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Chaplin  R:  Psychiatrists can cause stigma too.  British Journal of Psychiatry 177:467, 2000
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Sartorius  N:  Iatrogenic stigma of mental illness.  British Medical Journal 324:1470–1471, 2002
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Wahl  O;  Aroesty-Cohen  E:  Attitudes of mental health professionals about mental illness: a review of the recent literature.  Journal of Community Psychology 38:49–62, 2010
[CrossRef]
 
Schulze  B:  Stigma and mental health professionals: a review of the evidence on an intricate relationship.  International Review of Psychiatry 19:137–155, 2007
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Cohen  P;  Cohen  J:  The clinician’s illusion.  Archives of General Psychiatry 41:1178–1182, 1984
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Lauber  C;  Anthony  M;  Ajdacic-Gross  V  et al:  What attitudes do psychiatrists hold towards people with mental illness? Psychiatric Bulletin 28:401–406, 2004
[CrossRef]
 
Magliano  L;  Fiorillo  A;  De Rosa  C  et al:  Beliefs about schizophrenia in Italy: a comparative nationwide survey of the general public, mental health professionals, and patients’ relatives.  Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 49:322–330, 2004
 
Silton  NR;  Flannelly  KJ;  Milstein  G  et al:  Stigma in America: has anything changed? Impact of perceptions of mental illness and dangerousness on the desire for social distance: 1996 and 2006.  Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 199:361–366, 2011
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Jorm  AF;  Oh  E:  Desire for social distance from people with mental disorders.  Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 43:183–200, 2009
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Morris  R;  Lezak  A:  Mental Health Services: A Public Health Perspective , 3rd ed.  Oxford, United Kingdom,  Oxford University Press, 2010
 
 General Social Surveys, 1972–2010: Cumulative Codebook, March 2011 .  Chicago,  University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, 2010
 
Grisso  T;  Appelbaum  PS:  Comparison of standards for assessing patients’ capacities to make treatment decisions.  American Journal of Psychiatry 152:1033–1037, 1995
[PubMed]
 
Steadman  HJ;  Mulvey  EP;  Monahan  J  et al:  Violence by people discharged from acute psychiatric inpatient facilities and by others in the same neighborhoods.  Archives of General Psychiatry 55:393–401, 1998
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Angermeyer  MC;  Matschinger  H:  The effect of personal experience with mental illness on the attitude towards individuals suffering from mental disorders.  Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 31:321–326, 1996
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Allport  GW:  The Nature of Prejudice .  Cambridge, Mass,  Perseus Books, 1954
 
Corrigan  PW;  Green  A;  Lundin  R  et al:  Familiarity with and social distance from people who have serious mental illness.  Psychiatric Services 52:953–958, 2001
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Link  BG;  Cullen  FT:  Contact with the mentally ill and perceptions of how dangerous they are.  Journal of Health and Social Behavior 27:289–302, 1986
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Davidson  L;  Chinman  M;  Kloos  B  et al:  Peer support among individuals with severe mental illness: a review of the evidence.  Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 6:165–187, 1999
[CrossRef]
 
Penn  DL;  Kommana  S;  Mansfield  M  et al:  Dispelling the stigma of schizophrenia: II. the impact of information on dangerousness.  Schizophrenia Bulletin 25:437–446, 1999
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Phelan  JC;  Link  BG;  Stueve  A  et al:  Public conceptions of mental illness in the 1950s and 1960s: what is mental illness and is it to be feared? Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41:188–207, 2000
[CrossRef]
 
McGinty  EE;  Webster  DW;  Barry  CL:  Effects of news media messages about mass shootings on attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness and public support for gun control policies.  American Journal of Psychiatry 170:494–501, 2013
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Barry  CL;  McGinty  EE;  Vernick  JS  et al:  After Newtown: public opinion on gun policy and mental illness.  New England Journal of Medicine 368:1077–1081, 2013
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Elbogen  EB;  Johnson  SC:  The intricate link between violence and mental disorder: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.  Archives of General Psychiatry 66:152–161, 2009
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 
Hinshaw  SP:  The Mark of Shame: Stigma of Mental Illness and an Agenda for Change .  New York,  Oxford University Press, 2007
 
References Container
+
+

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe



Related Content
Articles
Books
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 54.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 50.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 21.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 6.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 49.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
APA Guidelines
PubMed Articles