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The public’s attitudes toward those with mental health problems comprise the larger social context in which individuals and their families experience these
problems. This social and cultural atmosphere sets the tone for public reaction to persons with mental health problems and toward proposed policy initiatives to assist them. The classic studies of Americans’ knowledge of and attitudes toward persons with mental illness and substance abuse problems began in the
1950’s with Shirley Star’s first national survey and was continued, in spirit, in the two large national studies, Americans View Their Mental Health (1957, 1976).
Since that time, much has changed in terms of scientific study, treatment, and policy. Until recently, the question remained about the impact of these important
changes on the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of the American people. The data for these reports come from the 1996 and 1998 General Social Survey, a nationally representative face-to-face survey of Americans conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.
Report #1. "Americans' Views of Mental Illness and Health at Century's End: Continuity and Change." B.A. Pescosolido, J.K. Martin, B.G. Link, S. Kikuzawa, G. Burgos, R. Swindle, and J.C. Phelan. Public Report on the MacArthur Mental Health Module, 1996 General Social Survey. Bloomington, IN. Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research (2000).
Report #2. "Public Views of Psychiatric Medications in Light of Health and Health Care." J.K. Martin, B.A. Pescosolido, J.D. McLeod, T. Croghan, E.R. Wright, J. Schnittker, D. Fettes, L. Aucoin, M. Tomlin, and A. Berkowitz. Public Report on the Pressing Issues in Health and Medical Care Module, 1998 General Social Survey. Bloomington, IN. Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research (2005).