Understanding and influencing the stigma of mental illness

J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2008 Jan;46(1):42-8. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20080101-04.


Life goals and the opportunities that define them are impaired by the stigma of mental illness. Three kinds of stigma may act as barriers to personal aspirations: public stigma, self-stigma, and label avoidance. Challenging mental illness stigm is essential in helping individuals accomplish recovery-related goals. Public stigma may be changed through protest, education, and contact. Self-stigma can be addressed by fostering group identity, changing the perceived legitimacy of stigma through cognitive rehabilitation, and making strategic decisions about disclosing one's mental health history. Stigma change for label avoidance is not as well understood but may include the education and contact approaches used for public stigma. Evidence-based approaches to stigma change need to be substantiated by rigorous investigations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Cues
  • Decision Making
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fear
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Mental Disorders* / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nurse's Role
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Prejudice
  • Psychiatric Nursing / organization & administration
  • Psychology, Social
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception*
  • Stereotyping*