Americans’ Attitudes toward Mental Illness and Involuntary Psychiatric Medication

Krysia N. Mossakowski, Lauren M. Kaplan, Terrence D. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study uses data from the Mental Health Modules of the General Social Survey (1996 and 2006) to understand why some Americans endorse the involuntary use of psychiatric medication. Results indicated that in 1996 and 2006, 28 percent of Americans believed that people with mental illness should be forced by law to take psychiatric medication. The belief that people with mental illness are dangerous significantly contributed to Americans’ endorsement of this form of mandated treatment. Interestingly, the belief that mental illness is caused by stress increased the odds of support for mandated medication in 1996 and then reduced the odds of support in 2006. Moreover, stigmatizing preferences for social distance from those with mental illness were no longer contributing factors in 2006. It is still imperative, however, that public policy makers promote anti-stigma initiatives to reduce barriers to psychiatric treatment and counteract the public's lingering fear of people with mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-216
Number of pages17
JournalSociety and Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • drug therapy
  • mental disorders
  • stigma
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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