The experience of stigma among Black mental health consumers

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2008 Aug;19(3):874-93. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0058.


Little is known about how stigma affects Black people receiving mental health treatment. For a project to develop a consumer-based stigma intervention, qualitative interviews were conducted with public-sector Black mental health consumers (N=34). Primary themes from the interviews regarding stigma concerns, experiences, and coping strategies were examined. Concerns about stigma prompted most consumers initially to avoid or delay treatment; once in treatment, consumers commonly faced stigmatizing reactions from others. Consumers identified numerous strategies to deal with stigma, including seeking support from accepting members of their existing social networks, and viewing their own health as more important than the reaction of others. These consumer perspectives may be valuable to Black individuals who are contemplating seeking mental health treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • San Francisco
  • Social Support
  • Stereotyping*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy