Communications to children about mental illness and their role in stigma development: an integrative review

Mueller, J., Callanan, M. and Greenwood, K. (2015) Communications to children about mental illness and their role in stigma development: an integrative review. Journal of Mental Health. ISSN 0963-8237.


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Limited literature on the stigma of mental illness has examined the socio-cultural processes involved in the development of stigma around mental health in children, which emerges in middle childhood (7-11 years). Greater understanding might inform preventative interventions.
This review aims to integrate disparate theoretical and empirical research to provide an overview of social communications to children aged 7-11 years about mental illness across four key socio-cultural contexts (the media, school, peers, parents) of relevance to children’s development, and to consider their role in the development of stigmatized views.
Systematic literature searches were conducted within electronic databases and abstracts were scanned to identify relevant studies. Fifteen papers were selected for the review.
The review found few studies have directly examined communications about mental illness to children. Available evidence suggests messages across children’s socio-cultural contexts are characterized by silence and stigma, which may shape children’s developing views. Specific theoretical frameworks are lacking; possible mechanisms of transmission are discussed.
This review suggests overcoming stigma will require efforts targeting young children, explicitly tackling mental illness, and spanning multiple social spheres: further research is warranted.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health services. Mental illness prevention
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Margie Callanan
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2015 10:41
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2016 01:39

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00