JHSPH Stigma Lab
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 Beth McGinty, Colleen Barry, and Alene 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
In this COVID-19 Expert Insights piece, Laura Murray, Keri Althoff, Beth McGinty, and Elizabeth Stuart write about why shame and blame won't help fight the pandemic, and what we should be focusing on instead.
COVID-19 and Stigma.
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.
- News media framing of serious mental illness and gun violence in the United States, 1997-2012
- Effects of news media messages about mass shootings on attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness and public support for gun control policies.
- After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness
- Two years after Newtown – Public opinion on gun policy revisited
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.
- Portraying mental illness and drug addiction as treatable health conditions: effects of a randomized experiment on stigma and discrimination.
- Stigma, discrimination, treatment effectiveness, and policy: public views about drug addiction and mental illness.
- Stigma and public support for parity and government spending on mental health: a 2013 national opinion survey
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.
- Social stigma toward persons with prescription opioid use disorder: Associations with public support for punitive and public health-oriented policies
- Primary care physicians' perspectives on the prescription opioid epidemic
- Understanding Americans' views on opioid pain reliever abuse
- Messaging to increase public support for naloxone distribution policies in the United States: Results from a randomized survey experiment
- Effects of competing narratives on public perceptions of opioid pain reliever addiction during pregnancy
- Criminal activity or treatable health condition? News media framing of opioid analgesic abuse in the United States, 1998-2012