Self-Stigma Brought on by Mental Illness Can Make Problem Worse

There is a certain stigma amongst those with mental problems. For some, this stigma is brought about by peers or acquaintances who do not understand the anguish mental illness can create. For others, it is their own fears of reactions among their peers, family members or colleagues that drives them deeper into depression or significantly impacts their self-esteem.

According to a recent Science Daily release, a collaboration between researchers from the University of Haifa, Indiana University and City University of New York has resulted in a new intervention that has been found to reduce the self-stigma and improve the quality of life – as well as self-esteem – among those individuals suffering with serious mental illness.

Prof. Roe, Chair of the Department of Community Mental Health, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa, noted that social integration increased for the disabled with the introduction of the wheelchair and Braille. There is also a need to remove community inclusion barriers for those with serious mental illness. Prof. Roe led the study with colleagues from the United States and Israel.

Earlier studies in this area found that there is a negative stigma attached to mental illness, placed there by society at large. This stigma has proven to be more powerful than labels attached to people with other disabilities and can also lead to social exclusion.

Compounding the problem is the “self-stigma” brought on by the mentally ill person. The individual will adopt and internalize the social stigma and lose self-esteem and self efficacy as a result. They tend to refrain from taking an active role in various areas of life, while can increase the problem.

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