Stigma in Mental Health: A Concept Analysis

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:40 AM

Khamis Al-Mamari, MSN, RN
College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA

People with mental health disorders endure stigma. Negative labeling and stereotyping of clients diagnosed with chronic physical and mental health conditions has grown dramatically in our society and makes stigma a universal health issue. The concept of stigma has been well documented and is associated with groups of people who suffer from health conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), mental illness, disability, and other debilitating illnesses. Furthermore, ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to the five major types of stigma identified in the literature. The negative influence of stigma on people’s lives creates a negative self-concept and causes individuals to be socially distance from the society (Parcesepe & Cabassa, 2012). Alonso and colleagues (2008) noted that stigma associated with mental disorders is significantly higher than stigma associated with physical disabilities. The concept of stigma in mental health has become a subject of investigation and debate. It is known that stigma is a major source of stress, contributes to social disadvantage and is a social determinant of population health (Hatzenbuehler, Phelan, & Link, 2013).  Stigma may disqualify certain groups (e.g. disabled individuals, psychiatric patients, people struggling with addiction, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]) from full social acceptance and the ability to conform to the normal standards of society. It frequently leads to cognitive ambivalence, which causes emotional conflict. People with mental health disorders are more likely to encounter stigma from others in public places or in health care systems (Rusch, Angermeyer, & Corrigan, 2005; Totic et al., 2012). They often have to struggle with several problems: coping with the disease, its symptoms, and its consequences. Additionally, they have to deal with misconceptions about mental health problems that result in further stigma. To understand the concept of stigma and its associated nuances, a concept analysis was untaken. 

The purpose of this presentation is to describe the concept of stigma generated from a concept analysis and to discuss the significance of stigma in mental health. An additional purpose is to propose a model to illustrate the concept of stigma in mental health. Using Walker and Avant’s concept analysis methodology, the antecedents, characteristics and consequences of stigma are described. The various types of stigma identified in the literature contribute to the overall development of the concept analysis. The findings of the concept analysis revealed that there are both positive and negative outcomes or consequences to the concept of stigma. Lastly, a model entitled, Stigma in Mental Health, is proposed from the findings of the concept analysis. Recommendations for effectively addressing the concept of stigma in mental health are proffered.