2007 issue 2

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Volume 16, issue 2

Original article

The stigma of mental illness: anticipation and experiencing

Andrzej Cechnicki1, Anna Bielańska2, Joanna Franczyk3
1. Pracownia Psychiatrii ŚŒrodowiskowej Katedry Psychiatrii Collegium Medicum Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego w Krakowie
2. Oddział Dzienny Kliniki Psychiatrii Dorosłych Szpitala Uniwersyteckiego w Krakowie
3. Warsztaty Terapii Zajęciowej Stowarzyszenia na Rzecz Rozwoju Psychiatrii i Opieki Środowiskowej w Krakowie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2007; 16 (2): 113-121
Keywords: schizophrenia, stigma, subjective experience

Abstract

Objectives. To describe the „ anticipated " and „ subjectively experienced " stigma and discrimination, as well as to analyze relationships between demographic data, clinical and social variables, and experienced discrimination.

Method. Participants in the study were 202 patients from the Małopolska region, diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizophreni form syndromes (according to the ICD-10 criteria). Their mean age was 40 years, and the average number of past hospitalizations amounted to 6. The Angermeyer questionnaire was used. The patients shared their opinions (anticipation) and reported their own experiences of discrimination.

Results. An analysis of the patients' opinions (anticipated discrimination) shows that: 66%o of the respondents believe that the mentally ill are treated in an unfriendly way; 76%o - that employers have no employment for persons with mental disorders; 65% are convinced that a majority ofpeople regard the mentally ill as unpredictable, 52% - as dangerous, while 41% of the general public think that their treatment is ineffective; 36% have noticed that the mentally ill are presented in mass media as a criminals; 64% have noticed discrimination in court; according to 47% of the respondents there are not enough facilities providing treatment to the mentally ill. The patients' own experiences indicate that as many as 87% of them have experienced rejection by others, 50% have experienced breaking up of a relationship because of mental illness; 60% have met with understanding and willingness to help, receiving care most often from their family andfriends (39%); 70% of the patients attempted to get an employment, and 31% of them failed to get a job because of their mental illness; 62%o have read a newspaper article and watched a TV program presenting the mentally ill in a good light; 54% have seen a film with a mentally ill person shown as a positive character; 13% have had negative experiences in judicial proceedings.

Conclusions. Both in the patients' opinions and in their own experience two spheres are most affected by discrimination of the mentally ill: relations with others and employment.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Andrzej Cechnicki
Pracownia Psychiatrii Środowiskowej Katedry Psychiatrii Collegium Medicum Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
Plac Sikorskiego 2/8, 31-115 Kraków