According to a recent study, people with depression are experiencing less discrimination and hostility in the United States. However, researchers noted an increase in negative attitudes toward people with schizophrenia and alcohol addiction.
"[S]tigma toward people with depression has dropped significantly," observed researchers from Indiana University . But it's unique to depression as "stigma levels for other mental illnesses remained stagnant and, in some cases, have increased," outline the experts in their study published in JAMA Network Open .
"Stigma translates into so many issues, including people's reluctance to seek care, our shortage of mental health professionals, and the U.S.' unwillingness to invest resources into the mental health sector," explains Bernice Pescosolido, study co-author and Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.
To measure the rate of mental illness stigma in the U.S., researchers analyzed responses from more than 4,100 adults collected in national stigma surveys conducted between 1996 and 2018.
Between 1996 and 2006, Americans report being "increasingly convinced that mental health problems are caused by genetics or disruptions in the brain, rather than moral causes." However, people with mental illnesses are still being dismissed. The shift is noticeable between 2006 and 2018 when "fewer Americans ... expressed an unwillingness to interact with people described as suffering from major depression."
"It is encouraging to find more progressive attitudes toward mental illness among millennials," noted Brea Perry, study co-author and professor of sociology at IU. She lamented that there is still much progress to be done regarding stigmatization of schizophrenia and alcohol addiction.
The researchers recommend introducing concepts as early as school to improve knowledge about mental illnesses and thus limit stigmatization in the future.
In recent years, several celebrities have publicly spoken about their own battles with depression including Demi Lovato, Pete Davidson, Taraji P.Henson and Justin Bieber.