A Better Understanding of Mental Illness Hasn’t Reduced the Stigma Around It

A 2010 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that Americans, between 1996 and 2006, developed a greater awareness of the neurobiological basis of mental illness and became more supportive of medical treatment. Despite that, the social stigma associated with mental illness is still significant— and in some instances, actually increased from 1996 to 2006, according to research led by Indiana University professor Bernice Pescosolido, director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research. People were more likely to say they didn’t want an alcoholic to marry into the family (up from 70 percent to 79 percent) or have someone with schizophrenia as a neighbor (up from 34 percent to 45 percent). Most in 2006 also said they were unwilling to work closely with someone who had schizophrenia (62 percent) or alcohol dependence (74 percent), and most thought people with either illness would likely be violent.