Friday, September 08, 2006

Hensel and Jones on Mental Illness Stigma and the ADA

New on Westlaw: Wendy F. Hensel & Gregory Todd Jones, Bridging the Physical-Mental Gap: An Empirical Look at the Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on ADA Outcomes, 73 Tenn. L. Rev. 47 (2005). From the introduction:

This Article represents one of the first attempts to ascertain empirically whether mentally-impaired litigants experiencing psychiatric disorders are disadvantaged vis-a-vis those with physical impairments in establishing membership in the protected class under the ADA. Part I provides the background for the study by identifying and discussing the historical stigma and stereotypes associated with mental illness and psychiatric impairments which continue to thrive today. Particular attention is paid to the potential impact such stigma may have in an employment context, and the challenges it creates for impaired employees in the workplace. Part II scrutinizes the legislative history of the ADA to determine whether evidence of such stigma was present during the legislative process, identifying the reluctance of several lawmakers to extend protection to people with psychiatric impairments. Part III reveals the results of an empirical study of all Title I district and circuit court decisions, available in LexisNexis or Westlaw, in three appellate circuits over two discrete two-year time periods, which directly address whether litigants have established class coverage under the ADA. The study compares the success rates of physically and mentally impaired litigants in an attempt to answer whether individuals with psychiatric disorders face systemic challenges that are not shared by physically-impaired litigants. Part IV proposes possible explanations for the surprisingly comparable success rates between the two tested groups, examining subtle sources of continuing stigma that may explain the unexpected results. Part V concludes with proposals for future research and action by advocates to ensure that people with mental illness are able to secure the full and equal protection from discrimination that is the promise of the ADA.

For my long-ago take on stigma and the ADA, see this article.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home