PEOPLE are developing more positive outlooks toward mental illness, the mentally ill, mental hospitals, and allied psychiatric professions, according to the findings in a recent survey in rural North Carolina.1 Other recent attitude surveys also suggest that the public's ideas and perceptions of mental illness have been changing positively over the past few decades.2-6 Although there is little empirical evidence with which to accurately pinpoint the source of this change, it seems reasonable to credit the efforts of the National Association for Mental Health, and its state and local affiliates, and other agencies concerned with mental health problems, for their work in educating the public. The advent of the mass media, especially television, in surveying educational information has also undoubtedly been an important factor.
The leadership of a community may be a major factor in changing attitudes toward mental illness. Leaders, by virtue
Bentz WK, Edgerton JW. Concensus on Attitudes Toward Mental IllnessBetween Leaders and the General Public in a Rural Community. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;22(5):468-473. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01740290084011