Just 41 percent of Californians surveyed recently by RAND Corporation believe that people are caring and sympathetic to those with mental illnesses, and 81 percent believe that people with mental illness experience high levels of prejudice and discrimination.
Stigma is prevalent, according to the report.
- More than two-thirds of those polled said they definitely or probably would hide a mental health problem from co-workers;
- More than one-third said they would do so from family or friends; and
- 21 percent said they would put off treatment because they feared letting anyone know about their mental health issue.
“These high levels of perceived stigma may discourage individuals facing a mental health challenge from getting needed support from friends and family, the workplace, school and mental health professionals,” said Eunice Wong, lead author of the report and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, in a press release.
The results come from the population-based California Well-Being Survey, conducted as part of the efforts by the California Mental Health Services Administration (CalMHSA) to create prevention and early intervention programs designed to improve the mental health of California residents. The group of individuals who are at risk for or are experiencing mental health problems, but may or may not have obtained treatment, is a key target for prevention and early intervention efforts However, the population has not been often studied.
The report, “Stigma, Discrimination, and Well-Being Among California Adults Experiencing Mental Health Challenges,” can be found at www.rand.org.