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Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research

JHSPH Stigma Lab

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Given persisting challenges of stigma and discrimination – especially in an era when the public dialogue on mental illness increasingly focuses on violence – we are developing a robust communication research initiative.

This initiative aims to identify evidence-based anti-stigma strategies with the goal of shifting negative public views about mental illness and addiction to increase the chances that meaningful, evidence-informed policies and practices will be implemented. To stay up to date on our current research, follow us on Twitter!

Featured current research

In this overview article, Center faculty, including Drs. McGinty, Barry, and Kennedy-Hendricks, summarize the evidence base on communication strategies to reduce stigma and increase public support for policies that benefit persons with mental illness and substance use disorders

Communication strategies to counter stigma and improve mental illness and substance use disorder policy

Public Perceptions of Mental Illness and Violence

In the months following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, Center faculty including Drs. McGinty, Barry, and Webster published several studies related to public perceptions and attitudes about the relationship between mental illness and violence and the implications of those perceptions for social stigma and policy support.  

Reducing Social Stigma through Portrayals of Treatment Effectiveness

In a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) and AIG Inc., Drs. McGinty and Barry, along with colleagues at the University of Maryland and Indiana University, conducted a study to assess how portrayals of successfully treated serious mental illness and drug addiction affect public attitudes toward persons with these conditions.  Study results suggest that portrayals of successful treatment have the potential to mitigate the pervasive and persistent social stigma toward these vulnerable groups.

Public Opinion and Message Framing Research on the Opioid Epidemic

Center faculty are conducting multiple studies of policy communication around the issue of opioid addiction. Ongoing studies include public opinion survey research examining Americans’ perceptions of the causes, consequences, and solutions of the opioid epidemic and message framing experiments testing communication strategies to increase public support for naloxone distribution and policies to facilitate effective treatment of prescription opioid addiction among pregnant women.