Mental health-related stigma causes suffering and interferes with care and social inclusion. This study explored stigma as experienced by mental health service users. Particular attention is given to their use of coping mechanisms. Interviews were held with 167 adults undergoing outpatient psychiatric treatment; two-thirds of them had previously been hospitalized. Examples of frequency of stigma-related situations included the following: Over half of service users expect people to refuse to have a person with a mental disorder as a co-worker or neighbor, or to engage in other types of social contact. A sizeable group acknowledged that they feared or had experienced rejection. A third of respondents reported they feared or had experienced inappropriate treatment by their doctor. Service users utilize several coping mechanisms to deal with stigma, among them: education, withdrawal, secrecy, and positive distinctiveness. Although we studied a convenience sample of service users, our findings provide sufficient basis to suggest different types of intervention, i.e., to address stigma in the course of treatment in the specialist settings, to promote the establishment of mutual support groups, and to raise family physicians' awareness with regard to the stigma that may be present when caring for persons with mental disorders.
|Number of pages
|Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
|Published - 2008
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health