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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


GIBSON, Roger Carl; ABEL, Wendel Dwight; WHITE, Sharon  and  HICKLING, Frederick William. Internalizing stigma associated with mental illness: findings from a general population survey in Jamaica. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.23, n.1, pp.26-33. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: The culture of stigma associated with mental illness is particularly intense when persons who are normally victims of that stigmatization (mentally ill persons and their family members) themselves act negatively toward others whom they associate with mental illness. We attempt to determine the extent of this internalization and assimilation of stigmatizing attitudes, cognitions, and behaviors in persons who are at risk for such stigmatization in Jamaica. METHODS: Data from a 2006 national survey on mental health were analyzed. Demographic variables, the presence or absence of mental illness in respondents and in their family members, and responses pertaining to behaviors and attitudes toward mentally ill persons were examined. Subsamples (respondents with mental illness, respondents with a family member with mental illness, respondents with neither) were compared using the chi-square test. RESULTS: Respondents with family members with mental illness were less likely to demonstrate a number of different manifestations of stigmatization than others (P = 0.009-0.019). Respondents with mental illness showed no difference in the demonstration of a number of different manifestations of stigmatization from other respondents (P = 0.069-0.515). CONCLUSIONS: The small number of mentally ill respondents resulted in low statistical power for demonstrating differences between that subgroup and other respondents. The significantly more positive attitudes and behavior of respondents with family members with mental illness suggest that some benefit may be gained by creating more opportunities for the general public to interact with persons with mental illness.

Keywords : Mental health; prejudice; Jamaica.

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