On the Stigma of Mental Illness: Practical Strategies for Research and Social Change
Written by participants and first-rate social scientists in the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research, On the Stigma of Mental Illness: Implications for Research and Social Change explores the causes and ramifications of mental illness stigma and possible means to eliminate it. The book translates basic behavioral research, especially from social psychology, to an issue of prime importance to clinical psychology.
Serious mental illness is a double-edged sword: It not only challenges those affected with the disability itself, but can also expose those affected to an unjust social stigma. Such a stigma can then deny these individuals opportunities to work, live independently, and pursue other goals.
At the core of many problems facing people with mental illness is public reaction to their disabilities (e.g., landlords may not rent to and employers may not hire someone with a serious mental illness). The authors explore the causes of such stigmatizing attitudes, including media images and a culture that does not respect persons with mental illness. Living within such a culture often leads to self-stigmatization as well. While laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act have decreased the impact of discrimination, contact between those with mental illness and those without may be one of the most effective ways to diminish stigma.
This book includes practical strategies for dealing with public stigma and self-stigma, including deciding when and how to disclose one's psychiatric history to others.