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Many Americans Say Stigma of Mental Illness Is Fading

New survey links this to an openness among friends, family members and celebrities about their own struggles

THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- A new survey finds that more than a third of Americans polled believe that the stigma of mental illness has declined and they attribute the change largely to openness by friends, family members and public figures about their own conditions.

Almost 80 percent of those polled said that such openness on the part of family and friends had had at least a moderate impact on the stigma of mental illness, reports the American Psychiatric Association, which commissioned the April online survey among 2,285 adults aged 18 and older.

Participants pointed to other factors that were influential in the reduction of stigma: an increase in the amount of online information about mental illness (75 percent), accurate portrayals of people with mental illness on TV and in movies (72 percent), public figures and celebrities talking about their mental illness (71 percent), and social networking sites about mental illness (61 percent).

Two thirds of those surveyed said they thought mentally ill people could get better.

There's no margin of error for the survey, by Harris Interactive, because it wasn't a random poll of the population at large.

More information

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more on mental illness.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Psychiatric Association, news release, May 3, 2010

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