Online Program

Measuring the stigma associated to mental illness with and without phenotype

Monday, November 4, 2013

Amanda Schwartz, Ravenwood High School, Nolensville, TN
Harolyn Belcher, MD, Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training /Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics, Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Stigma generally refers to a negative stereotype placed on someone or something. The purpose of this study was to investigate stigma associated with mental illness in individuals with and without phenotypic disorders. It was hypothesized that there would be more stigma toward individuals who had mental illness without a phenotypic disorder compared to individuals with a phenotypic disorder. A voluntary survey was completed by high school students (n=199) and teachers (n=20) in a suburban setting. The survey was designed to elicit respondents' opinions about stigma associated with mental illness. The survey used Down syndrome as the example of a phenotypic disorder and depression as the prototypical mental illness. Study respondents endorsed less stigma towards those with mental illness who had Down syndrome compared to individuals without Down syndrome (mean 0.25, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.47, p<0.05). Overall, respondents were more favorable toward individuals with Down syndrome compared to individuals who only had mental illness (mean difference 1.5, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.0; p<0.001). The results of this survey research support the original study hypothesis regarding the existence of increased stigmatization of mental health disorders compared to genetic syndromes. This research is the only study to date that surveys both high school students and teachers regarding their attitudes about stigmatization towards individuals with and without phenotypic disorders. This study led to the development of an informational pamphlet for high school guidance counselors. The brochure explained stigma associated with mental illnesses and recommended strategies to reduce stigma.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education

Learning Objectives:
Define stigma and describe potential differences in levels of stigmata of individuals with disabilities who have and do not have phenotype. Formulate and discuss a potential policy and plan to prevent stigma and discrimination.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because I developed purpose of the study, conducted the survey, and analyzed the data with some help.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.