How stigma interferes with mental health care

Am Psychol. 2004 Oct;59(7):614-625. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.59.7.614.


Many people who would benefit from mental health services opt not to pursue them or fail to fully participate once they have begun. One of the reasons for this disconnect is stigma; namely, to avoid the label of mental illness and the harm it brings, people decide not to seek or fully participate in care. Stigma yields 2 kinds of harm that may impede treatment participation: It diminishes self-esteem and robs people of social opportunities. Given the existing literature in this area, recommendations are reviewed for ongoing research that will more comprehensively expand understanding of the stigma-care seeking link. Implications for the development of antistigma programs that might promote care seeking and participation are also reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Self Concept
  • Social Justice
  • Social Perception
  • Stereotyping*