Article

Perceptions of discrimination among persons with serious mental illness

University of Chicago Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Tinley Park, Illinois, 60477, USA.
Psychiatric Services (Impact Factor: 1.99). 09/2003; 54(8):1105-10. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.54.8.1105
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The authors sought to gain further perspective on discrimination experienced by persons with mental illness by comparing self-reports of discrimination due to mental illness to self-reports of discrimination due to other group characteristics, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.
A total of 1,824 persons with serious mental illness who participated in a baseline interview for a multistate study on consumer-operated services completed a two-part discrimination questionnaire. The first part of the questionnaire assessed participants' perceptions about discrimination due to mental illness as well as more than half a dozen other group characteristics. The second part of the questionnaire asked participants who reported some experience with discrimination to identify areas in which this discrimination occurred, such as employment, education, and housing.
More than half of the study participants (949 participants, or 53 percent) reported some experience with discrimination. The most frequent sources of this discrimination were mental disability, race, sexual orientation, and physical disability. Areas in which discrimination frequently occurred included employment, housing, and interactions with law enforcement. Areas in which discrimination was experienced did not significantly differ among groups of study participants characterized by mental disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disability.
Discrimination based on group characteristics other than mental illness does not diminish the impact of stigma associated with mental illness. Antistigma programs need to target not only discrimination related to mental illness but also that associated with other group characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and physical disability.

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