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Effect of perceived stigma on work and social roles among individuals with mental health disorders in Saudi Arabia: findings from a national survey.

BACKGROUND: It is known worldwide that stigma towards mental illness exists. Studies on stigma perceived by patients with mental illness have shown decreased quality of life and a negative impact on work, school and social life. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of perceived stigma among respondents who had been diagnosed with a mental illness during the past 12 months, its association with socio-demographic variables and its effect on work and social roles limitations among Saudis.

METHODS: The Saudi National Mental Health Survey (SNMHS) data were used for the analysis. The SNMHS is a nationally representative survey that was conducted using face-to -face interviews with Saudi individuals (age 15-65) in their households. Respondents were diagnosed (N = 639) with mental disorders based on a well-validated questionnaire-the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) 3.0. Two dimensions from CIDI assessed perceived stigma: embarrassment and perceived discrimination.

RESULTS: The prevalence of perceived stigma was 27.8% among mentally ill respondents. Stigma was lower among respondents who didn't seek any type of treatment than those who sought treatment OR = 0.28 (95% CI 0.084-0.935, P = 0.03). Respondents who reported perceived stigma had more work role limitations (OR = 1.1 95% CI 1.01-0.10 P 0.006) and social limitations (OR = 1.3 95% CI 0.99-1.62 P 0.05) than respondents who didn't report stigma.

CONCLUSION: Perceived stigma is experienced by mentally ill individuals and it negatively affects their work and social roles. Awareness programs to remove stigma and educate the public are needed to be established by policymakers and healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia.

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