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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mental Illness Stigma

Rao, Deepa PhD*; Feinglass, Joseph PhD; Corrigan, Patrick PsyD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: December 2007 - Volume 195 - Issue 12 - p 1020-1023
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31815c046e
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The present study sought to examine whether racial/ethnic differences exist in stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental illness among community college students. Multiple regression models were used to investigate racial/ethnic differences in students’ perceived dangerousness and desire for segregation from persons with mental illness both before and after participation in an antistigma intervention. At baseline, African Americans and Asians perceived people with mental illness as more dangerous and wanted more segregation than Caucasians, and Latinos perceived people with mental illness as less dangerous and wanted less segregation than Caucasians. Similar patterns emerged postintervention, except that Asians’ perceptions changed significantly such that they tended to perceive people with mental illness as least dangerous of all the racial/ethnic groups. These findings suggest that racial/ethnic background may help to shape mental illness stigma, and that targeting antistigma interventions to racial/ethnic background of participants may be helpful.

*Institute for Healthcare Studies, †General Internal Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; and ‡Institute of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Psychology, Chicago, Illinois.

Supported by an Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training grant from the National Institutes on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133P030002 to D.R.).

Send reprint requests to Deepa Rao, PhD, Institute for Healthcare Studies, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 676 St. Clair, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail: deepa-rao@northwestern.edu.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.