Stigma: barrier to mental health care among ethnic minorities

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2005 Dec;26(10):979-99. doi: 10.1080/01612840500280638.


This paper explicates the stigma of mental illness as it is experienced by four ethnic minority groups in the United States. Concerns about prejudice and discrimination among individuals who suffer burdens related to mental illness are delineated. It is proposed that ethnic minority groups, who already confront prejudice and discrimination because of their group affiliation, suffer double stigma when faced with the burdens of mental illness. The potency of the stigma of mental illness is one reason why some ethnic minority group members who would benefit from mental health services elect not to seek or adequately participate in treatment. The combination of stigma and membership in an ethnic minority group can impede treatment and well-being, creating preventable and treatable mortalities and morbidities. The article concludes with recommendations for research and health policy implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / ethnology
  • Asian Americans / ethnology
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Ethnic Groups / education
  • Ethnic Groups / ethnology*
  • Family / ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hispanic Americans / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / ethnology
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Minority Groups / education
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration
  • Prejudice
  • Self Concept
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception
  • Stereotyping*
  • United States