Association between mental health-related stigma and active help-seeking: systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Psychiatry. 2017 Apr;210(4):261-268. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.189464. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


BackgroundMental disorders create high individual and societal costs and burden, partly because help-seeking is often delayed or completely avoided. Stigma related to mental disorders or mental health services is regarded as a main reason for insufficient help-seeking.AimsTo estimate the impact of four stigma types (help-seeking attitudes and personal, self and perceived public stigma) on active help-seeking in the general population.MethodA systematic review of three electronic databases was followed by random effect meta-analyses according to the stigma types.ResultsTwenty-seven studies fulfilled eligibility criteria. Participants' own negative attitudes towards mental health help-seeking (OR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.73-0.88) and their stigmatising attitudes towards people with a mental illness (OR = 0.82, 95% CI 0.69-0.98) were associated with less active help-seeking. Self-stigma showed insignificant association (OR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.76-1.03), whereas perceived public stigma was not associated.ConclusionsPersonal attitudes towards mental illness or help-seeking are associated with active help-seeking for mental problems. Campaigns promoting help-seeking by means of fighting mental illness-related stigma should target these personal attitudes rather than broad public opinions.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Social Stigma*