An international study found that despite widespread acceptance that mental illness is a disease that can be
effectively treated, a common “backbone” of prejudice exists that unfairly paints people with conditions such as
depression and schizophrenia as undesirable for close personal relationships and positions of authority.
This backbone, say the Indiana University sociologists who led the study, spanned the 16 diverse countries
examined. While the findings might be discouraging to mental health advocates, the data can be used to reconfigure
public health efforts to reduce stigma and to determine important issues for treatment providers to consider.
“If the public understands that mental illnesses are medical problems but still reject individuals with mental illness,
then educational campaigns directed toward ensuring inclusion become more salient,” the authors wrote in “The
‘Backbone’ of Stigma: Identifying the Global Core of Public Prejudice Associated With Mental Illness,” published
online early in a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
The researchers analyzed data from the IU-led Stigma in Global Context – Mental Health Study, which talked with
19,508 study participants about customized vignettes. The vignettes portrayed someone suffering either from
depression, schizophrenia or, the control group, asthma. The countries represented a diverse range geographically,
developmentally and politically, with at least one country on each inhabitable continent.
Even in countries with cultures more accepting of mental illness, the “backbone” of stigma was detected,
encompassing issues involving caring for children, marriage, self-harm and holding roles of authority or civic
responsibility. The stigma was even stronger toward people with schizophrenia.
Stigma is considered a major obstacle to effective treatment for many Americans who experience these devastating
illnesses. It can produce discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and have a
negative impact on the quality of life for these individuals and their families and friends.
“The stereotype of all people with mental illness as ‘not able’ is just wrong. No data supports this,” said Bernice
Pescosolido, sociology professor in the IU College of Arts and Sciences and an internationally recognized expert in
the field of mental health stigma. “With the prevalence of mental health problems being so high, no individuals or
families will go untouched by these issues. They need to understand that recovery is not only possible but has been
Pescosolido chairs the international advisory council for Bring Change 2 Mind, a not-for-profit organization
established by actress and activist Glenn Close to reduce the prejudice and discrimination associated with mental
illness. BC2M was cited in the journal article, along with Mental Health First Aai, an organization that helps people
understand and assist others who might be experiencing a mental health crisis.
“Forward-thinking organizations base their work both on community ties and science — this works best in terms of
making change efforts realistic, effective and resonate with individuals, families, providers and policymakers,”
Pescosolido said. “Hopefully the work of organizations like these can find the support necessary to create personal
and institutional social change.
Source: Indiana University
The Jessica Gove Memorial Youth Activity (“Fishing Pole”) Fund honors a woman who gave many years of service to children and families.
As a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager and Mental Health Practitioner at Canvas Health, Jessica often used games, books, outings, and summer fishing trips with children and teens to help them express their feelings, practice social skills, enjoy a little respite, and feel special and valued. She understood that, regardless of situation or diagnosis, children respond to play, activity, and the opportunity for exploration with a caring adult.
Jessica always carried a supply of games and fishing equipment in the back of her Jeep – a kind of activity toolkit at the ready for youth encounters. She made an annual outing to the lake in Woodbury to bring kids in contact with the experience of casting a line for fish, and then helped them take the fish off the hook even when no one else had the courage. Thus, the Jessica Gove “Fishing Pole” Fund.
Youth-focused professionals can make use of Youth Activity Funds in many ways. These funds can purchase a book, theater outing, fishing license, used guitar, bus pass to visit a college, or other small items that facilitate a therapeutic activity and a sense of self-discovery or confidence for a child or teen that might not have such an opportunity otherwise. Your donation to the fund will be applied to those small things that spark a big difference, and be administered by the Canvas Health Child and Family Division.
Please spend time with a special youth in your life in honor of Jessica’s professional and personal practice and life.
Click here to link to the donation page.
It seems that new research studying the effect of violent video games on children’s brain development, decision making, socialization and moral development is released every day. Unfortunately, the results of these studies are often have contradictory conclusions. One study states, “video games desensitize (children) to real violence,” leaving children with less able to have empathy and more prone to acts of violence. Another concludes that “playing violent video games and the amount of time playing violent video games are risk factors for delinquency and violent behavior.” On the other hand, a study from December 2010 concluded that there is “no link between violent video games, youth aggression. “
Anecdotal evidence is similarly contradictory. Columbine killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were reported to be immersed in a violent video game (Doom) and it has been widely speculated that this, to some degree, desensitized them to killing and in a sense, “trained” them to “point and shoot.” Anders Breivik, who killed 69 and wounded 110 children in Norway in 2011, stated the he used the video game Call of Duty as a training aid to kill. And, on the other hand, every child that plays violent video games does not grow up to be a mass murderer or sociopath. Most grow up to be well adjusted, kind, sensitive adults.
So, where does this leave us?
To read more click here.