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Angermeyer M.C.,Center for Public Mental Health
Epidemiologia e psichiatria sociale | Year: 2010

AIMS: Based on findings from population surveys, we provide an overview of the public's emotional reactions to people with mental illness. METHODS: A literature search for populations studies using measures of emotional response to people with mental illness was carried out. In addition, data on the public's emotional reactions, originating from representative surveys conducted in Germany in the years 1990, 1993 and 2001, were analysed. RESULTS: Positive emotional reactions to people with mental illness are most prevalent, followed by fear and anger. This pattern appears relatively stable across different cultures. In recent years, the emotional response of the public remained unchanged or even deteriorated. The public seems to react quite differently to people with different mental disorders. Emotional reactions have a substantial effect on the desire for social distance. The association between familiarity with mental disorder and the desire for social distance is to a considerable extent mediated through emotions. CONCLUSIONS: The public's emotional reactions to people with mental disorder are relatively under-researched. More research may help better understand the complexities of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Interventions aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness may benefit from paying more attention to emotions.

Bahlmann J.,Universitatsmedizin Greifswald | Angermeyer M.,Center for Public Mental Health | Angermeyer M.,University of Cagliari | Schomerus G.,Universitatsmedizin Greifswald
Psychiatrische Praxis | Year: 2013

Objective: To find out to what extent the German public uses the term "burnouto" to label a depressive episode, and to examine how this label relates to stigmatizing attitudes and treatment recommendations. Methods: Representative population surveys in Germany 2001 (n = 5025) and 2011 (n = 3642), using unlabeled case vignettes of mental disorders. Results: Labeling a depressive episode "burnouto" increased from 0.3 % in 2001 to 10.2 % in 2011. Schizophrenia and alcohol dependence were labeled "burnouto" far less frequently. Compared to the label "depressiono", "burnouto" was associated with less desire for social distance, but also with less recommendation of psychotherapy, medication, and seeing a psychiatrist. Conclusion: While provoking less desire for social distance than "depressiono", using the label "burnout" carries the risk of increasing the proportion of untreated depressive episodes. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart New York.

Schomerus G.,University of Greifswald | Schwahn C.,University of Greifswald | Holzinger A.,Medical University of Vienna | Corrigan P.W.,Illinois Institute of Technology | And 4 more authors.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica | Year: 2012

Objective: To explore whether the increase in knowledge about the biological correlates of mental disorders over the last decades has translated into improved public understanding of mental illness, increased readiness to seek mental health care and more tolerant attitudes towards mentally ill persons. Method: A systematic review of all studies on mental illness-related beliefs and attitudes in the general population published before 31 March 2011, examining the time trends of attitudes with a follow-up interval of at least 2years and using national representative population samples. A subsample of methodologically homogeneous studies was further included in a meta-regression analysis of time trends. Results: Thirty-three reports on 16 studies on national time trends met our inclusion criteria, six of which were eligible for a meta-regression analysis. Two major trends emerged: there was a coherent trend to greater mental health literacy, in particular towards a biological model of mental illness, and greater acceptance of professional help for mental health problems. In contrast, however, no changes or even changes to the worse were observed regarding the attitudes towards people with mental illness. Conclusion: Increasing public understanding of the biological correlates of mental illness seems not to result in better social acceptance of persons with mental illness. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Schomerus G.,University of Greifswald | Matschinger H.,University of Leipzig | Angermeyer M.C.,University of Cagliari | Angermeyer M.C.,Center for Public Mental Health
Psychological Medicine | Year: 2014

Background. There is an ongoing debate whether biological illness explanations improve tolerance towards persons with mental illness or not. Several theoretical models have been proposed to predict the relationship between causal beliefs and social acceptance. This study uses path models to compare different theoretical predictions regarding attitudes towards persons with schizophrenia, depression and alcohol dependence. Method. In a representative population survey in Germany (n=3642), we elicited agreement with belief in biogenetic causes, current stress and childhood adversities as causes of either disorder as described in an unlabelled case vignette. We further elicited potentially mediating attitudes related to different theories about the consequences of biogenetic causal beliefs (attribution theory: onset responsibility, offset responsibility; genetic essentialism: differentness, dangerousness; genetic optimism: treatability) and social acceptance. For each vignette condition, we calculated a multiple mediator path model containing all variables. Results. Biogenetic beliefs were associated with lower social acceptance in schizophrenia and depression, and with higher acceptance in alcohol dependence. In schizophrenia and depression, perceived differentness and dangerousness mediated the largest indirect effects, the consequences of biogenetic causal explanations thus being in accordance with the predictions of genetic essentialism. Psychosocial causal beliefs had differential effects: belief in current stress as a cause was associated with higher acceptance in schizophrenia, while belief in childhood adversities resulted in lower acceptance of a person with depression. Conclusions. Biological causal explanations seem beneficial in alcohol dependence, but harmful in schizophrenia and depression. The negative correlates of believing in childhood adversities as a cause of depression merit further exploration. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013.

Angermeyer M.C.,Center for Public Mental Health | Angermeyer M.C.,University of Cagliari | Holzinger A.,Medical University of Vienna | Carta M.G.,University of Cagliari | Schomerus G.,University of Greifswald
British Journal of Psychiatry | Year: 2011

Background: Biological or genetic models of mental illness are commonly expected to increase tolerance towards people with mental illness, by reducing notions of responsibility and blame. Aims: To investigate whether biogenetic causal attributions of mental illness among the general public are associated with more tolerant attitudes, whether such attributions are related to lower perceptions of guilt and responsibility, to what extent notions of responsibility are associated with rejection of people who are mentally ill, and how prevalent notions of responsibility are among the general public with regard to different mental disorders. Method: A systematic review was conducted of representative population studies examining attitudes towards people with mental illness and beliefs about such disorders. Results: We identified 33 studies relevant to this review. Generally, biogenetic causal attributions were not associated with more tolerant attitudes; they were related to stronger rejection in most studies examining schizophrenia. No published study reported on associations of biogenetic causal attributions and perceived responsibility. The stereotype of self-responsibility was unrelated to rejection in most studies. Public images of mental disorder are generally dominated by the stereotypes of unpredictability and dangerousness, whereas responsibility is less relevant. Conclusions: Biogenetic causal models are an inappropriate means of reducing rejection of people with mental illness. Declaration of interest: None.

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