American Sociological Association

Who’s to Blame? Partisanship, Responsibility, and Support for Mental Health Treatment

This article investigates partisan beliefs regarding attributions of responsibility for mental illness and support for mental health treatment. In study 1, we utilize a nationally representative data set to investigate these relationships with respect to generalized anxiety disorder. In study 2, we utilize an online convenience sample to assess these relationships in the context of schizophrenia. In both studies, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to attribute mental health disorders to factors that lie within patients’ control and were less supportive of healthcare coverage. In addition, given the rhetorical, erroneous link between schizophrenia and gun violence, we assess participants’ beliefs about gun control in the context of mental health. Paradoxically, we find that people who support gun rights for the mentally ill are the least likely to support healthcare coverage for the mentally ill. We discuss the implications of our findings for shaping U.S. gun debates.


Christin L. Munsch, Liberty Barnes, and Zachary D. Kline