Palmetto Media Watch
(Second in a Series from the Office of Communications on
Misinformation is a leading cause of the stigma associated with mental illness. In an effort to persuade the media to be our allies in the fight against stigma, the Department of Mental Health, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities and other advocacy organizations have formed a statewide network of volunteers to watch the media for examples of material that inaccurately or negatively portrays mental illness. Through phone calls, letters to the editors or reporters and op-ed pieces for the newspaper, volunteers will tell the media what was done wrong, how it harms people and how to correct it.
About 100 people have volunteered to be a part of this exciting and important effort. A training session has been scheduled for March 30 for our Palmetto Media Watchers.
Another segment in our fight against stigma involved the department's hiring of a research firm to conduct a statewide survey of people's attitudes toward mental illness. Following are the highlights from that survey:
Highlights of Survey
Sixteen percent of South Carolina citizens have a stigma towards mental illness. When asked to use a "1" to "6" scale to indicate how strongly they agree or disagree with the statement, "If mental illness were in my family, I would not want people to know ..."
Residents of the Pee Dee region are more likely than other residents in the state to have a stigma towards mental illness. Conversely, residents of the Midlands region are much less likely than other residents to have a stigma.
South Carolinians who attribute stigma with mental illness are much more likely than citizens who do not have a stigma to ...
South Carolina citizens with a stigma towards mental illness are much more likely than other residents to listen to urban ethnic radio programs. They are much less likely than other residents to listen to Christian radio programs.
At least half of all South Carolina residents agree with the following positive statements about mental illness.
Most South Carolina residents are not keen about locating a home for the mentally ill in a residential neighborhood.
In 2000, respondents were asked how strongly they agreed with the statement, "Individuals who have a mental illness and are receiving competent treatment are no more dangerous than the general population." Findings reveal ...
South Carolinians are more likely to believe that heredity and chemical imbalance are the top causes of mental illness than any other factor. When asked to name the most common cause of mental illness ...
In 2000, South Carolina citizens were much more likely to believe mental illness is caused by heredity (36% vs. 11%) and much less likely to believe it is caused by alcohol/drug abuse (11%) and stress (9%) than in 1990.
The most common telltale sign of mental illness is the way a person with a mental illness reacts to situations. When asked to name the telltale signs of mental illness...
Most (87%) South Carolinians claim they are very likely to seek treatment or advise someone else to seek treatment if they had mental illness. This is true whether or not they have a stigma towards mental illness.
The majority feel people with mental illness should be able to obtain treatment in their own communities.
Yet, most are not satisfied with the quality of programs and services available at the community level.
Although most (69%) South Carolina citizens are not familiar with SCDMH, the percentage of citizens who are not familiar with the organization declined since 1990.
Regardless, 89% of all citizens claim they would contact the local mental health program at SCDMH if the need arose.
Thirty eight percent of those who said they would not contact SCDMH do not trust the organization. Some fear confidentiality while others are not sure of the quality of care at SCDMH. Many would simply prefer to call their private physician.
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