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Stigma: the feelings and experiences of 46 people with mental illness: Qualitative study

  • Sokratis Dinos (a1), Scott Stevens (a2), Marc Serfaty (a1), Scott Weich (a1) and Michael King (a1)...

Abstract

Background

Stigma defines people in terms of some distinguishing characteristic and devalues them as a consequence.

Aims

To describe the relationship of stigma with mental illness, psychiatric diagnosis, treatment and its consequences of stigma for the individual.

Method

Narrative interviews were conducted by trained users of the local mental health services; 46 patients were recruited from community and day mental health services in North London.

Results

Stigma was a pervasive concern to almost all participants. People with psychosis or drug dependence were most likely to report feelings and experiences of stigma and were most affected by them. Those with depression, anxiety and personality disorders were more affected by patronising attitudes and feelings of stigma even if they had not experienced any overt discrimination. However, experiences were not universally negative.

Conclusions

Stigma may influence how a psychiatric diagnosis is accepted, whether treatment will be adhered to and how people with mental illness function in the world. However, perceptions of mental illness and diagnoses can be helpful and non-stigmatising for some patients.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Michael King, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK. E-mail: m.king@rfc.ucl.ac.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Stigma: the feelings and experiences of 46 people with mental illness: Qualitative study

  • Sokratis Dinos (a1), Scott Stevens (a2), Marc Serfaty (a1), Scott Weich (a1) and Michael King (a1)...

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