Stigmatizing Attitudes Towards Mental Illness
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This study investigates whether education has an effect on stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness among college students. A survey was administered measuring the prevalence of stigma towards mental disorders. Two samples of undergraduate students (Abnormal Psychology and Non-Abnormal Psychology) were questioned on their perceptions of hypothetical persons who embodied one of the following mental disorders: depression, schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder. A series of Independent samples t-tests were performed to determine which mental disorder had the highest stigma. A significant amount of stigma was found towards schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder. No significant difference in total stigma was found between the abnormal and the non-abnormal sample, but a significant difference was found in total social distance; suggesting having an understanding of mental illness may change an individual’s perceptions of mental illness. These findings suggest that education alone cannot be a sole predictor of stigma but may influence the individual’s understanding of those diagnosed with a mental disorder.