Community Stigma Baseline Survey: Mental Health & Substance Misuse Knowledge, Beliefs & Behavior

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Many (if not all of us) know someone facing a mental health or substance misuse issue. However, many people do not get the help and treatment they need because of the stigma around these issues and fear others will judge them. San Mateo County is dedicated to reducing this stigma so that everyone gets the help they need and, ultimately, are able to live longer and better lives.

While we know stigma is a major barrier, how pervasive is such stigma in our San Mateo County community? Are our current stigma reduction programs reducing this stigma overtime?

To answer these questions, San Mateo County launched and completed a Community Stigma Baseline Survey around mental health and substance misuse knowledge, beliefs and behavior. The San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity commissioned an independent research firm, Strata Research Inc., to implement a baseline survey among San Mateo County residents who were at least 18 years of age. This 15-minute survey was completed by 450 residents in San Mateo County during March 2020. This survey built off of the statewide mental health stigma survey conducted by RAND Corporation.

Key findings from the Community Stigma Baseline Survey are listed below. The Executive Summary  has more information on each domain, differences by demographics (e.g. age, gender, race/ethnicity) and general information about the survey.

Mental Health

  • One-third of San Mateo County adults (36%) have had a mental health issue.
  • Among those who have had a mental health issue, almost two-thirds (72%) sought treatment.
  • San Mateo County adults scored highest on Mental Health Inclusive Behavior across the three domains used to assess overall knowledge, beliefs and behavior, followed closely by Mental Health Knowledge.

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Substance Misuse

  • One in ten San Mateo County adults (13%) have had a substance misuse issue.
  • Among those who have had a substance misuse issue, one-half (55%) sought treatment.
  • San Mateo County adults scored highest on the Substance Misuse Knowledge domain.

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To learn more about current stigma reduction programs, please visit www.smchealth.org/endstigma.

To learn more about mental health and substance misuse treatment and services, please visit www.smchealth.org/bhrs.

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