Stop the Stigma

New Journal Article on Mental Health Stigma

Shawnda Schroeder, Chih Ming Tan, Brian Urlacher, Thomasine Heitkamp, Sage Journals
Publication Date: Nov 23, 2020

The Role of Rural and Urban Geography and Gender in Community Stigma Around Mental Illness

November 23, 2020 - A new study, based off work from the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) product “Measuring Stigma around Mental Illness in North Dakota,” examined the role of gender and rural-urban living in perceptions about mental illness. Data from 749 participants, who completed the Day’s Mental Illness Stigma Scale, were used to analyze seven measures of stigma. The study found that, “Females exhibited lower stigma perceptions than males. However, women living in rural areas held higher degrees of stigma compared to urban residing females.”


In North Dakota, a rural state with an agriculturally oriented economy, more than 19% of adults reported any mental illness in 2017. Barriers to seeking mental health services include, but are not limited to, payment, insurance coverage, provider availability, transportation, mental health literacy, and real and/or perceived stigma surrounding treatment.  Stigma may be felt more acutely in small communities due to a lack of anonymity. The World Health Organization calls the stigma and associated discrimination towards persons suffering from mental and behavioral disorders “the single most important barrier to overcome in the community.”