Editorials

Psychiatry, stigma, and resistance

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7164.963 (Published 10 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:963

Psychiatrists need to concentrate on understanding, not simply compliance

  1. Nicky Britten, Director, GKT concordance unit
  1. Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Guy's, King's, and StThomas's School of Medicine, London SE11 6SP

    The Royal College of psychiatrists has just launched a five year campaign aiming to reduce the stigmatisation experienced by people with mental health problems and to close the gap between professional and public assessment of treatment. The campaign is targeted primarily at the general public, whose attitudes differ significantly from those of health professionals. 1 2 The main problem that the campaign seeks to address is the resistance of sufferers to seeking or accepting advice and treatment. It is based on the assumption that this resistance is linked to public attitudes towards treatment of mental problems and the stigma experienced by sufferers.

    The campaign literature cites a study by Jorm et al, which shows that the public more often perceives psychiatric medication as harmful than helpful.2 There are several possible explanations for this. For the general public such questions may well …

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