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Factors Affecting Stigma Toward People with Schizophrenia and Video - Based Interventions for Stigma Reduction

  • Author(s): Martinez, Viviana
  • Vasquez, Cindy
  • Nava, Evelyn
  • Smith, Kennedy
  • Avilla, Ross
  • et al.
Abstract

Having a mental illness can be a stigmatizing feature in the eyes of the general public, which can negatively impact the lives of people who already suffer from a mental illness.  The purpose of the current study was to determine what factors may contribute to mental illness stigma; specifically, stigma toward people who have schizophrenia.  Several factors were examined as being potentially related with mental illness stigma: racial background, gender, college major, GPA, previous contact with someone with schizophrenia, and knowledge about mental illness.  Based on past research findings, it was hypothesized that Caucasian female students who are psychology majors with a GPA above 3.0 would hold the lowest level of stigma, compared to other groups.  It was further hypothesized that those who had previous contact with people with schizophrenia and a relatively high level of knowledge about mental illness would also display lower levels of mental illness stigma.  The study also assessed whether exposure to video interviews of people with schizophrenia or educational videos about schizophrenia could decrease mental illness stigma toward this group.  Participants consisted of 264 college students from the University of California, Merced.  Results indicated that Caucasian participants displayed lower levels of stigma, compared to Asian and Hispanic participants, and that psychology majors displayed marginally less stigma than non-psychology majors.  Additionally, participants who had prior contact with schizophrenic individuals displayed lower levels of mental illness stigma than those who had no prior contact. Furthermore, participants who displayed a higher level of knowledge about mental illness exhibited less stigma as well.  Contrary to past findings, there were no significant effects of gender or GPA on mental illness stigma.  Lastly, it was found that showing participants a video featuring an interview of someone with schizophrenia was successful in subsequent levels of mental illness stigma.  However, a video interview of a family who had relatives with schizophrenia and an educational video about schizophrenia did not significantly affect mental illness stigma.

These results and their implications were discussed as they pertained to demographic factors that impact mental illness stigma, as well as video-based interventions aimed at lessening stigma. Negative stigma towards mental illness can result in higher risks of misinformation about mental health, higher rates of social isolation for those with mental disorders, as well as higher chances of comorbid illnesses such as depression and anxiety in people with mental illnesses. Because of the negative outcomes that can result from high levels of negative mental illness stigma it is important to examine the underlying factors mentioned in this study.

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