The Public Response To Mental Illness

Decent Essays
Stigma is a major impediment to accessing appropriate care by individuals with mental illness. The word “stigma” originated in ancient Greece as the marking or ‘branding” of slaves
(Falk, 2001, p. 32). It has come to mean the labeling, discrimination and rejection of people who are socially and behaviorally different (Phelan & Basow, 2007). People with mental illness fall into the category of ‘different,’ because the symptoms of the various mental illnesses may interfere with their ability to fulfill society’s expectations.
The public response to mental illness is qualitatively different than it would be to any other disease like physical illness (Dingfelder, 2009). The stigma or negative reaction that occurs in response to mental illness exists because of a lack of knowledge about mental illness, such as
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However, Ng and Chan (2000) argued that knowledge about mental illness might not be sufficient to change attitudes as students with more knowledge about mental illness held more restrictive view on mental illness. Therefore, another factor i.e. contact with mentally ill is important but the nature and quality of contact could be more important (Ng &
Chan, 2000). Recent studies have found that there is another important component of stigma i.e. behavior (Thornicroft, 2006; Thornicroft, Rose, Kassam & Sartorius 2007), it is often only attitudes that are measured as outcomes in intervention studies and population surveys neglecting both knowledge and behavior (Thornicroft, 2006; Van Brakel,
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