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A qualitative study exploring experiences of discrimination associated with mental-health problems in Ireland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2012

R. Lakeman*
School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, NSW, Australia
P. McGowan
School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Ireland
L. MacGabhann
School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Ireland
M. Parkinson
School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Ireland
M. Redmond
School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Ireland
I. Sibitz
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
C. Stevenson
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Ulster
J. Walsh
School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Ireland
*Address for correspondence: Dr R. Lakeman DNSci, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, LISMORE, NSW 2480, Australia. (Email:



Stigma and discrimination related to mental-health problems impacts negatively on people's quality of life, help seeking behaviour and recovery trajectories. To date, the experience of discrimination by people with mental-health problems has not been systematically explored in the Republic of Ireland. This study aimed to explore the experience impact of discrimination as a consequence of being identified with a mental-health problem.


Transcripts of semi-structured interviews with 30 people about their experience of discrimination were subject to thematic analysis and presented in summary form.


People volunteered accounts of discrimination which clustered around employment, personal relationships, business and finance, and health care. Common experiences included being discounted or discredited, being mocked or shunned and being inhibited or constrained by oneself and others.


Qualitative research of this type may serve to illustrate the complexity of discrimination and the processes whereby stigma is internalised and may shape behaviour. Such an understanding may assist health practitioners reduce stigma, and identify and remediate the impact of discrimination.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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