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The first step undertaken in the programme against stigma and discrimination was a survey conducted in Beijing during the period December 1998 through February 1999. In the course of this specially constructed survey, 995 participants were interviewed. The sample included 225 schizophrenia patients, 230 family members of patients, 257 community members, and 283 mental health professionals. The goal was to assess attitudes towards mental illness and measure the effects of social stigma which persons suffering from schizophrenia and their family experience.
     Based on the results obtained, a model of stigma and discrimination was developed that highlights the central role of damaged self-esteem and actual or threatened loss of social status. Findings indicate that patients and family members who are able to maintain their self-esteem despite the problems caused by the illness are much better equipped to tolerate social stigma, and thus more likely to make a positive adaptation to the illness. On the other hand, patients and family members for whom the illness seriously damages or threatens self-esteem are often hypersensitive to actual or feared stigma and discrimination, and become demoralized and hopeless. This latter group is more likely to use maladaptive methods of adjustment, such as denial of the illness and poor compliance with treatment.

Contact information
Dr. Michael Phillips
Beijing Hui Long Guan Hospital
FAX: 86-10-6271-2471
Email: phillips@sun.ihep.ac.cn

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