Ending Discrimination against People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders: The Evidence for Stigma Change

National Academy of SciencesOver the last 50 years, there have been significant efforts at the national and local levels to improve the lives of people with mental and substance use disorders. However, while legislation and initiatives have advanced, attitudes and beliefs about mental and substance use disorders have lagged. As part of national efforts to understand and change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that can lead to stigma and discrimination, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine to undertake a study of the science of stigma change. This report from the National Academy of Sciences and HHS offers a set of conclusions and recommendations about successful stigma-change campaigns, how best to encourage people to seek treatment and supportive services for themselves or others, and the research needed to inform and evaluate these efforts in the U.S.