Reducing self-stigma by coming out proud

Am J Public Health. 2013 May;103(5):794-800. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301037. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Self-stigma has a pernicious effect on the lives of people with mental illness. Although a medical perspective might discourage patients from identifying with their illness, public disclosure may promote empowerment and reduce self-stigma. We reviewed the extensive research that supports this assertion and assessed a program that might diminish stigma's effect by helping some people to disclose to colleagues, neighbors, and others their experiences with mental illness, treatment, and recovery. The program encompasses weighing the costs and benefits of disclosure in deciding whether to come out, considering different strategies for coming out, and obtaining peer support through the disclosure process. This type of program may also pose challenges for public health research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Homosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Self Concept
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Identification
  • Social Stigma*
  • Social Support*
  • Transgender Persons / psychology