Psychiatrists in blue : a quantitative analysis of how police involvement in mental health crises affects social stigma

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dc.contributor.advisor Livingston, James D.
dc.creator Banfield, Samantha
dc.date.accessioned 2015-08-13T14:07:20Z
dc.date.available 2015-08-13T14:07:20Z
dc.date.issued 2015
dc.identifier.uri http://library2.smu.ca/xmlui/handle/01/26287
dc.description 1 online resource (91 p.)
dc.description Includes abstract and appendix.
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 83-91).
dc.description.abstract This thesis explores the effects of how intertwining police and mental health services in the response to mental health crises contributes to the stigmatization of people with mental illness. The specific research question in focus is: how does having a specialized police response team for mental health crises influence the public’s attitudes toward people with mental illness? The prevalence of interactions between police and individuals with mental illness has been well documented, as well as the negative outcomes such as harm or even fatalities. In reaction to this problem, crisis intervention teams were created; these programs bridge a partnership between law enforcement and the health care system. Research up to date has focused on the components, training, and positive outcomes of crisis intervention teams while, negative consequences are not considered. The methodology of this study consisted of 73 undergraduate students as participants who read a vignette completed a quantitative questionnaire. The questionnaire gathered socio-demographic information as well as stigma levels from the Social Distance Scale and Attribution Questionnaire. Overall, high levels of familiarity with mental illness and low stigma on both the Social Distance Scale and the Attribution Questionnaire was found. There was no significant difference found between the group with the non-police vignette and the group with the police vignette. The highest rated stigma subscales on the Attribution Questionnaire was pity, coercion, and avoidance. For instance, the average scores on the pity subscale for the police (M = 6.50, n = 37, SD = 1.40) and non-police (M = 6.19, n = 36, SD = 1.28). Similarly, the average scores of the coercion subscale for the police (M = 4.40, n = 37, SD = 1.38) and non-police (M =4.51, n = 36, SD = 1.17). With the Social Distance Scale a complementary finding was also discovered. The average rating for the police group was 3.37 (n =37, SD = 0.69) and average rating for the non-police group was 3.30 (n =36, SD = 0.64). In relation to the current study’s research question, both groups of the study, the subscales marginally effected in terms of stigma were pity, coercion, and avoidance. In connection to the open-ended question multiple comments mentioned John should be prescribed medication or some sort of treatment hint at the endorsement of coercion. In addition, further exploration showed a small negative correlation was found between level of familiarity with mental illness and social stigma. Through the main finding, that the two groups (Non-Police and Police) are not statistically different shows that these participants did not face high stigma but also that particularly the institutional response (mental health crises response team), police presence, did not influence a labeling that would impact participants social stigma. en_CA
dc.language.iso en en_CA
dc.publisher Halifax, N.S. : Saint Mary's University
dc.title Psychiatrists in blue : a quantitative analysis of how police involvement in mental health crises affects social stigma en_CA
dc.type Text en_CA
thesis.degree.name Bachelor of Arts (Honours Criminology)
thesis.degree.level Undergraduate
thesis.degree.discipline Sociology and Criminology
thesis.degree.grantor Saint Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.)


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