Stigma of mental illness

Y M Lai, C P Hong, C Y Chee
Singapore Medical Journal 2001, 42 (3): 111-4

BACKGROUND: Psychiatric patients carry the additional burden of stigma.

METHODS: The views of 300 psychiatric out-patients and day-patients and 100 mental health workers concerning stigma were sought. The control group comprised 50 cardiac out-patients.

RESULTS: A fair proportion of patients with schizophrenia or depression perceived that stigma had a negative effect on their self-esteem, relationships and job opportunities. The majority felt a need for an increase in public awareness of mental illness. In contrast, the cardiac patients reported very little stigmatization.

CONCLUSIONS: The diagnostic label of mental illness may render the person vulnerable to stigmatization. Possible causes of stigma and ways of reducing stigma are discussed.

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