Fighting Shadows: Self-stigma and mental illness, Whawhai atu te whakamaa hihira
Author: Debbie Peterson, Alex Barnes, Chloe Duncan
Status: Completed 09 July 2008
Summary: Self-stigma (often called internalised stigma) is an issue that most people with experience of mental illness would recognise, either seeing it in them-selves or in other people. It is generally believed that self-stigma arises from internalising the negative messages and behaviour that people with experience of mental illness receive from other people. The concept of self-stigma is fundamentally linked to the concept of discrimination. This research explores the concept of self-stigma and mental illness, and offers strategies to combat it.
Objectives: - To explore self-stigma from the perspective of people with experience of mental illness. - To investigate the causes and effects of self-stigma - To consider how people with experience of mental illness can combat self-stigma.
Study design: Literature review and focus groups with 76 people with experience of mental illness (including Pakeha/general, Maori/tangata whaiora, Pasifika, Chinese, Refugee, and young people’s groups) - Participants were asked what self-stigma meant to them, how and when it affected them, where it comes from, and what makes it worse or helps them to deal with it.
Results: A new definition of stigma and discrimination arose from the findings. A model of stigma and discrimination was also developed from this definition, which helps to explain the phenomenon while also offering 'circuit breakers' to help people combat it.
Conclusions: Key recommendations from the research include: - Recognising the contribution of mental illness and foster leadership among people with experience of mental illness - Celebrating and accepting difference - Affirming human rights - Encourage disclosure - Encourage recovery-oriented practices - Encourage empowerment - Support peer support services - Challenge attitudes and behaviour Key words: Self-stigma, stigma, discrimination, service user perspective, clients prespective.
Ethics approval: No
Academic led: No
Service led: Yes
Publication in peer review journal:
How were service users involved: Participants of the research