Stigma in Global Context - Mental Health Study (SGC-MHS)
For more information, visit the SGC-MHS website (updated soon).
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The Stigma in Global Context - Mental Health Study (SGC-MHS), a National Institute of Health-funded program, was designed to answer the International Study of Schizophrenia (ISoS)'s question: Why do individuals in "developing" countries report better outcomes than individuals in "developed" countries? The intense analysis that surrounded the ISoS led to the conclusion that "stigma" must underlie these findings. Led by Co-Investigators Bernice A. Pescosolido, Jack K. Martin and J. Scott Long, the SGC-MHS is the first multi-national, methodologically coordinated study of the social, political and cultural climate surrounding mental illness. Drawing from the International Social Survey Program, the SGC-MHS has developed a vignette-designed instrument to assess the general public's reaction to mental illness.
The conclusion of the ISoS that stigma interferes with recovery from mental illness reignited concern that stigma could be the foremost barrier to mental health treatment and outcomes. While the World Psychiatric Association's "Open the Door" Programme, led by Norman Sartorius, called for research and programs to reduce stigma, there has never been a comparative study of the cultural climate surrounding mental illness. The SGC-MHS was designed to fill that gap by mounting a coordinated study of nationally representative populations in 15+ countries. Providing respondents with vignette "cases" that meet DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia and major depression, as well as a medical case control (i.e., asthma), the SGC-MHS examines the prejudice and potential for discrimination attached to mental illness throughout the world. The SGC-MHS also develops alternative hypotheses to tap into cross-national differences in the recognition of mental health problems, suggestions about solutions, and support for societal-based resources to assist in recovery.
To date, fifteen countries have completed data collection, and several others are looking to join the study or have joined with a modified survey design. Currently, participating countries are Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Iceland, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and the United States.