The Effects of Mental Illness Stigmas
As I began exploring sources, it became clear that research concerning the stigmas involved with mental illness is a relatively new topic of exploration, just being analyzed in the last two decades or so. Despite this time span, much of the research I encountered provided similar feedback: the main theme throughout research being that the stigmas attached to those with mental illness have negative effects on those suffering from said illnesses. The stigmas are present throughout multiple aspects of life, adversely affecting those with mental illness through media, social circles, job discrimination, healthcare, criminal justice, and other structural barriers.
Unfortunately, the stigmas involved with mental illness are widely held by those in the United States and western European countries (Corrigan and Watson 16). These stigmas seem to be further intensified through exposure to media stories involving gun violence and offenders with mental illness (McGinty et al. 406). Sherry Glied states that because the majority of the public holding the stigmas have had no real exposure to serious mental illness (qtd. in McGinty et al. 406), news stories depicting persons with mental illness committing gun violence can further the viewer’s negative attitudes about mental illness (McGinty et al. 406). As Sherry Glied was cited as saying it could reinforce negative attitudes, a study done by McGinty et al. showed it has happened. The study found that, “respondents who read a news story describing a mass shooter with SMI [serious mental illness] reported higher perceived dangerousness of and desired social distance from persons with SMI, compared with respondents randomly assigned to a control group” (McGi...
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... the hand of prejudice.
Structural barriers enacted by governmental policies further restrict those with mental illness from fully interacting in communities. For example, at the time of Corrigan’s publication, almost a third of the states in the US did not allow those with mental illness to hold public office (Corrigan 621). Moreover, Corrigan asserts, “about 50% of states restrict the child custody rights of parents with mental illness” (621). Corrigan goes on to explain that this restriction is not even a result of society’s apprehension about the competence of those with mental illness; the label “mental illness” itself is enough to prompt these restrictions (621). Many people with mental illness also struggle to find an acceptable place to live, as landlords share the discriminatory stigmas held by the general public and government agencies (Corrigan 616).
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