Implicit and Explicit Stigma of Mental Illness: Attitudes in an Evidence-Based Practice

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The extent to which explicit and implicit stigma are endorsed by mental health practitioners using evidence-based practices is unknown. The purposes of the current study were to a) examine implicit and explicit biases among Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) staff and b) explore the extent to which biases predicted the use of treatment control mechanisms. Participants were 154 ACT staff from nine states. Overall, the participants exhibited positive explicit and implicit attitudes toward people with mental illness. When modeled using latent factors, greater implicit, but not explicit, bias significantly predicted greater endorsement of restrictive or controlling clinical interventions. Thus, despite overall positive attitudes toward those with mental illness for the sample as a whole, individual differences in provider stigma were related to clinical care. Mental health professionals, and specifically ACT clinicians, should be educated on types of bias and ways in which biases influence clinical interventions.

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