Attitudes about Mental Illness Among Mental Health Professionals and Family Members of the Mentally Ill—A Comparative Study
New York Institute of Technology
Over the past few decades, the issue of mental illness has become a more widely accepted topic of debate and discussion. Television and other media have increased public awareness about mental illness, and the mentally ill and their advocates have made significant progress in social tolerance and in furthering the rights of people afflicted with mental illness. Despite these gains, however, a powerful stigma remains attached to the mentally ill, and misconceptions about them—and the problems that affect them—persist (Ganguli, 2000). Although the public is more aware of mental illness than ever before, this awareness is general and superficial, and has done little to actually lessen the stigma that the mentally ill endure.
A multitude of past studies indicates that the stigma suffered by the mentally ill continues today, significantly affecting how they find employment, have relationships with others, find adequate housing, and many other important aspects of normal living (Gordon, Tantillo, Feldman & Perrone, 2004). Other research indicates that acceptance and understanding of the mentally ill increases when people are given accurate information about them and their illnesses (Holmes, Corrigan, Williams, Canar, & Kubiak, 1999). In fact, the great majority of the existing research has examined the change in opinions about mental illness after people have been exposed to the mentally ill or have been given accurate information about them and the diseases afflicting them. However, very little research exists that examines the differences of opinions about mental illness between groups who already have experience and exposure to the mentally ill.
This research will investigate the different levels of acceptance of mental illness between two distinct groups of people—those who...