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Stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses

  • Arthur H. Crisp (a1), Michael G. Gelder (a2), Susannah Rix (a3), Howard I. Meltzer (a4) and Olwen J. Rowlands (a5)...
Abstract
Background

Recognition of the additional social handicaps and distress that people with mental illnesses experience as a result of prejudice.

Aims

To determine opinions of the British adult population concerning those with mental illnesses as baseline data for a campaign to combat stigmatisation.

Method

Survey of adults (n=1737 interviewed; 65% response) regarding seven types of common mental disorders. Responses evaluated concerned eight specified perceptions.

Results

Respondents commonly perceived people with schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug addiction as unpredictable and dangerous. The two latter conditions were also viewed as self-inflicted. People with any of the seven disorders were perceived as hard to talk with. Opinions about effects of treatment and prognosis suggested reasonable knowledge. About half the respondents reported knowing someone with a mental illness.

Conclusions

Negative opinions indiscriminately overemphasise social handicaps that can accompany mental disorders. They contribute to social isolation, distress and difficulties in employment faced by sufferers. A campaign against stigma should take account of the differences in opinions about the seven disorders studied.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor A. H. Crisp, Changing Minds Campaign, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 17 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PG; e-mail: stigma@rcpsych.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

Unconditional funding from Eli Lilly and Co. Ltd.

Footnotes
References
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Byrne, P. (1997) Psychiatric stigma: past, passing and to come. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 90, 618621.
Byrne, P. (2000) Stigma of mental illness and ways of diminishing it. Advances in Psychiatry Treatment, 6, 6572.
Crisp, A. H. (1999) The stigmatization of sufferers with mental disorders. British Journal of General Practice, 49, 34.
Crisp, A. H. (2000) Changing minds: every family in the land. An update on the College's campaign. Psychiatric Bulletin, 24, 267268.
Gilbert, P. (2000) Stigmatization as a survival strategy: “skeletons in the cupboard” and the role of shame. In Every Family in the Land: Tackling Prejudice and Discrimination Against People with Mental Illnesses (ed. Crisp, A. H.). www.stigma.org.
Hayward, P. & Bright, J. A. (1997) Stigma and mental illness: a review and critique. Journal of Mental Health, 6, 345354.
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Johns, A. (2000) Drug and alcohol addiction. In Every Family in the Land: Tackling Prejudice and Discrimination Against People with Mental Illnesses (ed. Crisp, A. H.). www.stigma.org.
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Link, B. G., Struening, E. L., Rahav, M., et al (1997) On stigma and its consequences: evidence from a longitudinal study of men with dual diagnoses of mental illness and substance abuse. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 38, 177190.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses

  • Arthur H. Crisp (a1), Michael G. Gelder (a2), Susannah Rix (a3), Howard I. Meltzer (a4) and Olwen J. Rowlands (a5)...
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