This study poses a number of research objectives, which are reflected in the following questions:
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- What are the misconceptions and stigmas about mental illnesses and their treatment among communities of people of color? What are their origins and causes, and how do they affect the behavior of people of color?
- Are there any healthcare disparities concerning people of color that contribute to their misconceptions and stigmas?
- What factors and conditions can alter these misconceptions and stigmas and encourage people of color to be more willing to seek mental illness treatment?
Thus, this study analyzes the causes of the problem, its effects on the behavior of people of color and the consequences for their health, and initially examines possible solutions.
It should be noted that the term “mental illness” is rather vague, and various healthcare professionals may interpret it differently. Insufficient certainty of the concept and sparse data on biological correlates may give rise to theoretical ambiguity (Seeman et al., 2016). According to Babbie (2017), conceptualization is supposed to make “fuzzy and imprecise notions (concepts) more specific and precise” (p. 133). For this reason, in this study, (1) “mental illness” is defined as the dysfunctional behavioral and mental states constituting the disorders listed in the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It is also necessary to distinguish between the notions of “stigma” and “misconception” for research purposes. (2) “Stigma” within the framework of this study is defined as a social label that implies negative attitudes and certain prejudices towards mentally ill people. (3) “Misconception,” in turn, is defined as a set of erroneous beliefs regarding the characteristics of mental illness and their treatment.
The term (4) “people of color” refers to all individuals who are not considered white, including African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Middle Eastern Americans. (5) “Health disparities” mean any inequalities in the treatment approach and conditions in relation to white people and people of color. The (6) “mental illness treatment” refers to all medical and psychotherapeutic interventions by healthcare professionals concerning a specific mental disorder. In this study, (7) “improving factors” are defined as any impacts and conditions that contribute to the disappearance of misconceptions and stigmas of people of color about mental illnesses.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Pub.
Babbie, E. (2017). The basics of social research (7th ed.). Cengage.
Seeman, N., Tang, S., Brown, A. D., & Ing, A. (2016). World survey of mental illness stigma. Journal of Affective Disorders, 190, 115-121.
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