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Mental Health Report: Attitudes Toward Mental Illness

November 16, 2012

Mental Health Report: Attitudes Toward Mental Illness

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

People’s beliefs and attitudes toward mental illness set the stage for how they interact with, provide opportunities for, and help support a person with mental illness. Attitudes and beliefs about mental illness are shaped by personal knowledge, knowing and interacting with someone living with mental illness, cultural stereotypes, and other factors.

Stigma has been described as "a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses" (President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003). When stigma leads to social exclusion or discrimination, whether from mental illness or some other condition, it results in unequal access to resources that all people need to function well, adversely affecting quality of life.

This report examines individual and state-level predictors of attitudes toward mental illness to highlight subgroups that might benefit from educational programs and services.

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