[The stigma of mental illness: concepts, forms, and consequences]

Psychiatr Prax. 2005 Jul;32(5):221-32. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-834566.
[Article in German]


Objective: Persons with mental illness frequently encounter public stigma and may suffer from self-stigma. We aim to clarify the concept of mental illness stigma and discuss important consequences for people with mental illness.

Method: A search of scientific literature on mental illness stigma was conducted with a focus on conceptually relevant empirical studies.

Results: After giving a conceptual overview of stigma, we elaborate on the consequences of stigma, focussing on self-stigma/empowerment, coping behaviour, fear of stigma as a barrier to using health services, and on structural discrimination. Main strategies to reduce stigma -- protest, education, and contact -- are discussed.

Conclusions: Stigma is of central importance to persons with mental illness, both to how they experience their illness and its consequences and whether they use available health services. Well-designed anti-stigma initiatives will help to diminish the impact of mental illness stigma.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Prejudice*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sick Role*
  • Socialization
  • Stereotyping
  • Treatment Failure