More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Study Confirms That Stigma Still a Barrier to Psychiatric Care
March 2006
NAMI Newsletter

A new study shows that while most Americans think that psychiatric drugs work, they probably wouldn?t ever use them.

The study, released by the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services at Indiana University, Bloomington, indicates that the stigma associated with taking antidepressants and psychiatric drugs remains high even though people increasingly understand mental illness and appreciate advances in treatment. Researchers found that:

  • Approximately two-thirds said psychiatric drugs do help people with mental health issues deal with day-to-day anxiety, control their symptoms, and improve family relationships;
  • Just 56 percent said they would be willing to take medication to alleviate panic attacks;
  • 41 percent would do so if they were diagnosed with depression;
  • And only about a third would be willing to take them for personal troubles or stress.

People may shy away from taking psychiatric drugs because they fear they will face stigma from others. ?There is a real link in the public mind between mental illness and ?dangerousness,? and that is what is fueling the stigma,? said sociologist Bernice A. Pescosolido, director of the consortium. ?Americans have become more sophisticated and knowledgeable about mental illness, and everybody assumed the stigma was going away.? But the results of this report clearly indicate that is not the case.

The report utilized data from the 1998 Surgeon General?s Social Survey of 1,400 Americans and was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Mental Health.


Bequests to Psychiatry and the Stigma

Many people who plan bequests, ie donations from their estate toward a cause or institution which provided them with health care that changed their life will generally support the big name illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, even Aids is gaining popularity.

But what about the person who was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital for the time required to treat a major psychiatric disorder? Do Psychiatric Hospitals or Departments of Psychiatry receive planned gifts from many of these patients?

According to an informed source who headed a major Department of Psychiatry in Canada, the answer is no. Despite their recovery, and their indebtedness to the skill and dedication of the physicians, psychologists, social workers and nurses who contributed to their eventual recovery, seldom do these patients include the Department of Psychiatry in their wills with a bequest.

It is thought the stigma of mental illness transcends into the grave and people don't want their friends and families to know they needed psychiatric support during their lifetime.

Departments of Psychiatry are constantly involved in research projects to better understand how and why these illnesses occur, and how to best treat them and seek funding for these projects.

It is certain that bequests are not something many people can consider, because of other financial obligations. But it might be something to consider, for someone with the means and the desire to give back to those who helped them in difficult times.

Usually hospitals have Foundations established for this purpose and hey can help draw up the necessary documents. Another approach could be to meet with the Chief of the Department of Psychiatry on the hospital that interestsyou and ask his/her guidance in drawing up a suitable plan.

If you were treated by a mental health specialist, have you ever considered adding a bequest to your will, so that after you have passed on, the medical specialty of Psychiatry can continue to work toward treatments and cures for disorders that affect a large percentage of the population?


Countering the Stigma of Psychiatric Illness

Last Updated: May 5 2006 01:05 PM EDT

  • Margaret Trudeau speaks about struggle with depression

Margaret Trudeau spoke for the first time about the bipolar depression that has plagued her for years.

"I lost my balance. I lost my ability to function and I needed help. And I got help. And it's available for every Canadian," she said in an interview Friday with CBC News.

At the press conference at an Ottawa psychiatric hospital Friday morning, she urged others suffering from mental illness to come forward and seek treatment.

"I felt I was broken for a long time, and now I am whole," said Trudeau.

Margaret Trudeau spoke at the Royal Ottawa Hospital.

"I have my life back after years of struggle." Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder characterized by mood swings alternating between severe depression to extreme euphoria.

The former wife of the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau says she has tried to hide her condition for decades, but came forward in hopes of dispelling the stigma attached to mental illness. She was also speaking out in an effort to drum up financial support for the Royal Ottawa Hospital.

Trudeau said her disorder began with post-partum depression following the birth of her second son, Alexandre, in 1973, and eroded her marriage to the former prime minister, as well as her second marriage.

"None of this has been easy, but through all these years I remember Pierre always said to me, 'It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that's important,'" she said.

She sought treatment after her son Michel Trudeau died in an avalanche accident in 1998 and after the death of the former prime minister two years later.

During her marriage to Trudeau, she was infamous for her escapades. She suggested they were a result of her mental state.

Trudeau said she plans to take a leadership role in the campaign to secure funding for the psychiatric hospital's new mental health facility, which is scheduled to open Nov. 1.

The 50,000-square-foot addition is expected to cost $132 million. The hospital is seeking $10 million in private donations.


Source: CBC


It is National Mental Health Awareness Month. We have many people talking about the issue, I do feel the stigma is still a barrier to care! Most doctors would like to give women drugs, than listen to the problems. It can be very difficult depends on where you live, to get in to see a doctor in the field of psychiatric care. Find the proper treatment plan, and follow up!
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