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. 2019 Mar;47(2):90-98.
doi: 10.1177/1403494817750337. Epub 2018 Mar 30.

Icelandic Inclusion, German Hesitation and American Fear: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Mental-Health Stigma and the Media

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Icelandic Inclusion, German Hesitation and American Fear: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Mental-Health Stigma and the Media

Bianca Manago et al. Scand J Public Health. .

Abstract

Aims: Quantitative survey research findings reveal that Western countries have lower rates of public stigma surrounding mental illness than other nations. However, qualitative media research across selected Western countries reports differences in stigmatising messages. Here, we take an in-depth look at country-level data exploring both similarities and differences in this stigma across three countries. Specifically, we use previous findings on global differences in public stigma and media to examine whether there is a correspondence between themes in newspaper reporting and variations in attitudes across seven stigma dimensions.

Methods: The Stigma in Global Context - Mental Health Study provides nationally representative data from Iceland ( N=1033; response rate=71%), Germany ( N=1255; response rate=63.16%) and the USA ( N=1425; response rate=67.31%). We limit analyses to respondents who received a vignette describing an individual meeting clinical criterion for schizophrenia or depression. Exploratory data analyses are used to examine overall patterns and cross-national differences.

Results: Graphical analyses show patterned similarities, especially for more individuals endorsing social distance as contact becomes more intimate. However, results also corroborate cross-national differences documented in media research. More Americans endorse evaluations of dangerousness, to both self and others. Fewer Icelanders report exclusionary tendencies, whilst Germans report the most consistently moderate levels of stigma.

Conclusions: While Western nations tend to report similar, lower levels of stigma globally, they each have unique areas of concern. Anti-stigma programs must take note of both similarities and differences to tailor their efforts to the local context.

Keywords: Stigma; culture; depression; media; mental health; mental illness; schizophrenia.

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