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: 2.41). 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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    • "Finally, the cross-sectional design of the current study does not allow for conclusions regarding causality between contact, prejudice, and any mediating factors. While we are able to glean the probable direction of causation based on past research (Corrigan et al., 2003) and the design of our study (capturing past contact and current attitudes), a longitudinal study design is needed to confirm whether greater contact leads to less prejudice and/or if greater prejudice leads to a decreased desire to interact. Additionally, while our identification of intergroup anxiety and positive implicit attitudes as mediators allowed for an enhanced understanding of our model, exploring other possible mediating factors in the relationship between contact and prejudice would add to this complex relationship. "
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    • "The psychological and social sequelae of self-stigma may also be farreaching (Yanos et al., 2010). Psychologically, self-stigma is correlated with feelings of shame (Campbell and Deacon, 2006), depression and demoralisation (Corrigan et al., 2003; Link, 1987; Link et al., 1991; Link et al., 1997), diminished hope and self-esteem (Corrigan et al., 2006; Lysaker et al., 2008; Werner et al., 2008), and the exacerbation of illness-related symptoms. Ritsher and Phelan (2004) argue that the most damaging aspect of experiencing self-stigma may be the feeling that one is no longer a full member of society and/or no longer like " normal " community members. "
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    • "LGBT individuals face elevated rates of stigma, including higher rates of discrimination and violence than sexual and gender dominant groups (Hellman et al., 2010; Kidd et al., 2011; Mizock & Lewis, 2008). One study found reports of discrimination among individuals with mental illness were highest among LGBT individuals (Corrigan et al., 2003). Transgender individuals may experience especially elevated rates of stigma (Kidd et al.). "
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