Institutional Scholarship

Cultural Perceptions of Mental Illnesses and the Effect on Stigma: A Case Study from Italy and its Implications for the United States

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dc.contributor.advisor Wang, Shu-wen
dc.contributor.author Atal, Zara R.
dc.date.accessioned 2014-08-27T14:46:57Z
dc.date.available 2014-08-27T14:46:57Z
dc.date.issued 2014
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10066/14656
dc.description.abstract Mental illnesses are a growing contributor to the global burden of disease. While some countries, like Italy, have developed comprehensive mental health care plans to prevent, treat, and take care of people suffering from mental illnesses, other countries, like the United States, have been unable to give full spectrum care. One of the key problems is the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illnesses that prevents people from getting the help they need and societies from offering effective health care plans. Stigma and discrimination are often informed by the perceptions people have about the causes and best treatments for mental illnesses, perceptions that are influenced by the cultures in which they are embedded. By reviewing other countries' mental health care systems and the influence of cultural perceptions on stigma and discrimination, we can begin to improve the mental health care system in the United States. The current research focuses specifically on Italy's mental health care system, which was the first country to adopt deinstitutionalization and which has one of the most successful mental health care systems in the world. A small pilot study with 10 participants was conducted in Milan, Italy to examine perceptions of causes and treatments for mental illnesses among Italian community members and to determine the effect of contact on their affective emotions and desire for social distance. Results show a belief among Italian community members in the diathesis stress model, a strong preference for rehabilitation and community integration, and a positive effect of contact in decreasing stigma. Areas for improvement and future research are discussed. Keywords: causal beliefs, cultural perceptions, mental health, treatment, stigma, rehabilitation
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of Psychology
dc.language.iso eng
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
dc.subject.lcsh Mental illness -- Treatment -- United States
dc.subject.lcsh Mental illness -- Treatment -- Italy
dc.subject.lcsh Mental illness -- United States -- Public opinion
dc.title Cultural Perceptions of Mental Illnesses and the Effect on Stigma: A Case Study from Italy and its Implications for the United States
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Haverford users only


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