American Public Opinion on Mental Health

Author: Walker Phillips
Major: Political Science, Literary Studies
Approved: Fall 2019
Status: In progress

Does the public equate disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to anxiety and depression? Does socio-economic status play a role in the amount and type of mental health insurance coverage a child receives? These questions present pertinent concerns and queries regarding mental health stigma, public opinion on mental health, and mental health insurance. Secondary resources as well as my family’s own personal experience suggest that these questions are not only relevant, but important to answer in order to have a better understanding of where mental health insurance policy should go, as well as public opinion about mental health. My project plans to address these questions through collecting public opinion data on the subject. Public opinion data would be collected by adding 5-7 questions on an outgoing Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) survey. This data would shed light not only on mental health stigma, but also address what the public thinks about mental health insurance. Following data collection, the public opinion data will be analyzed and compared with my secondary research on the subject. More importantly though, this comparison would illuminate any policy discrepancies between public opinion and Virginia’s mental health insurance policy. Through these potential discrepancies, I would then propose a policy proposal that aligns with public opinion’s own thoughts on mental health. These survey findings on mental health will help inform my policy proposal regarding reform of the mental health insurance. If public opinion does not clash with current mental health policy, interesting mental health stigma information is still found, and the lack of any contradictions can be interesting in and of itself, given the problems secondary resources have identified. This research project will provide unique information on mental health stigma, and also uncover public opinion data on mental health insurance policy and mental health stigma.