Then the participants answered questions gauging how much distance they would want to keep from the people in the vignettes. Would they want the person as their neighbor, housemate, co-worker or spouse? How likely is the person to be dangerous or make responsible financial or treatment decisions? Such questions are used in other surveys that measure stereotypes and stigmas such as those against people who are gay or use drugs.
Stuber and her colleagues found that mental health workers who had at least a four-year college degree, a job position denoting greater seniority (for example, program manager) and a mental illness themselves had more positive attitudes about people with mental health problems.
"The finding that stands out the most is that almost a third of mental health professionals disclosed that they received a diagnosis of mental illness in the past," Stuber said. "This prior experience was associated with less negative attitudes, which has implications for how we think of the relevance of that experience in recruiting for a mental health workforce."
The researchers compared the findings to attitudes held by non-experts, composed of close to 400 adults taking the biennial national General Social Survey.
Overall, mental health workers held more positive attitudes than did the general public. For instance, 40 percent of mental health providers and 70 percent of the general public indicated they wouldn't want someone with schizophrenia as a co-worker. Similarly, 35 percent of mental health workers and 70 percent of the public considered people with schizophrenia to be dangerous.
"The study shows that even though mental health professionals have by and large more favorable vie
|Contact: Molly McElroy|
University of Washington