Changes in the perception of mental illness stigma in Germany over the last two decades

Matthias C Angermeyer, Herbert Matschinger, Mauro G Carta, Georg Schomerus
European Psychiatry: the Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists 2014, 29 (6): 390-5

PURPOSE: To examine the evolution of the perception of the stigma attached to mental illness in Germany since 1990 up to the present.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Population surveys were conducted in the old German States (former Federal Republic of Germany) in 1990, 2001, and 2011. The perception of stigma attached to people with mental illness was assessed with the help of Link's perceived discrimination and devaluation scale.

RESULTS: In the 2011 survey, less mental illness stigma was perceived by respondents than in the previous surveys. In the eyes of the German public, the devaluation and rejection of people with mental illness has substantially decreased since 1990.

DISCUSSION: The perception of a decline of the stigmatization is in contrast to the development of the German public's attitudes towards persons with mental disorders, which remained unchanged or even worsened.

CONCLUSION: Perceived and personal attitudes towards persons with mental illness have developed differently, and it remains to be seen whether perceptions of less public stigma will ultimately be followed by improved personal attitudes.

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