May 06, 2005

Public anti-stigma efforts don't work

Related to the earlier news story on stigma, a news story from a few years back reported that research suggested that anti-stigma campaigns for schizophrenia targeted at the public don't work (echoing the statements of E. Fuller Torrey, DJ Jaffe, and others that the real anti-stigma effort should be focused on getting all people who have schizophrenia successfully treated so that there are fewer incidences of violence that are so widely covered in the news, to the detriment of the approximately 99% of people with schizophrenia who aren't violent).

See Excerpt below:

"Schizophrenia anti-stigma campaigns aimed at the general public are usually a waste of money, says a mental health researcher who questioned more than 1,600 people.

A better target would be health professionals and mental-health providers, maintains Dr. Heather Stuart (PhD), an epidemiologist at Queens University, Canada and lead investigator in a study into public attitudes and knowledge about psychiatric disorders.

The research by Dr. Stuart and Dr. Julio Arboleda-Florez, head of psychiatry at Queens, was part of the World Psychiatric Association's global program to fight the stigma of schizophrenia. It was conducted with the co-operation of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.

While 52% of the respondents who did not work with the mentally ill were rated as high on social distance, 57% of those who worked with psychiatric patients scored high on the social distance scale.

That, Dr. Stuart said, has profound implications—namely that anti-stigma campaigns aimed at the lay public would be a waste of money. She also noted Australia spent $8 million on such a campaign and that it had little impact.


The bottom line is that health-care professionals "have the same attitudes as the guy on the street when we should be expecting more from them," Dr. Stuart said.

She said she feels anti-stigma efforts should be geared toward health-care professionals to raise their awareness."


I just opened your website.I agree completely. Our providers and fellow consumers are much more judgemental of each other than general public. I've been teaching "anti-stigma" campaign for 8 years. Clint Rayner,Mental Health Advocate

Posted by: Clint Rayner at August 17, 2005 01:06 PM

I feel that a lot of violence may be caused by substance abuse. So maybe the media should point out the cases where substance abuse plays a major factor in violence. In particular, alcohol abuse doesn't seem to get much news or the high profile that someone with schizophrenia might get. If we are going to fill the news with bad stories, lets at least point the finger where there is room for improvement, not at helpless situations.

Posted by: John Carlson at August 29, 2005 08:39 PM

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