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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 83-84  

Stigma and psychiatric disorders

Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Missions Medical College, Kamothe, Navi-Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication20-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
Darpan K. M. Singh
8/187, M.H.B., Om-Lamba Society, Opposite Bhakti-Dham Mandir, Sion-Chunabhatti, Mumbai - 400 022, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-2870.97531

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How to cite this article:
Singh DK, Ajinkya S. Stigma and psychiatric disorders. Med J DY Patil Univ 2012;5:83-4

How to cite this URL:
Singh DK, Ajinkya S. Stigma and psychiatric disorders. Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2012 [cited 2023 Mar 22];5:83-4. Available from:


The stigma of mental illness refers to the view that persons with mental illness are different, have undesirable characteristics, and deserve reproach because of their mental illness. Stigma leads to negative stereotyping and discriminatory behavior toward persons with mental illness. It may cause affected persons to experience rejection and feel ashamed about their condition. Stigma and discrimination exert a detrimental effect on persons with mental illness by limiting their opportunities and reducing their self-esteem. Less is known about the actual experiences of persons with mental illness and their family members in relation to stigma. [1]

Medical students may share stigmatizing attitudes of society toward persons with mental illness and may have prejudiced beliefs regarding the practice of psychiatry. It is often found that primary care physicians tend to focus on physical symptoms and omit or minimize the focus on mental disorders. Psychiatry undergraduate education programs do not always seem to meet the objectives of the discipline. This may be responsible for creating negative attitudes toward psychiatry and psychiatric patients, especially among junior doctors. [2]

Lai et al. sought the views of psychiatric out-patients, day-patients, mental health workers, and cardiac out-patients concerning stigma. They found that a significant proportion of patients with schizophrenia or depression perceived that stigma had a negative effect on their self-esteem, relationships, and job opportunities as contrast to the cardiac patients who reported very little stigmatization. [3]

Dickerson et al. assessed outpatients with schizophrenia receiving community care with the Consumer Experiences of Stigma Questionnaire (CESQ) and found that all but one respondent indicated having at least one stigma experience. The most frequently reported CESQ items were respondents' worry about being viewed unfavorably because of their psychiatric illness and avoidance of telling others about it. [1]

Golberstein et al. used a five-item scale to assess perceived public stigma toward mental health service use. Perceived stigma was higher among males, older students, Asian and Pacific Islanders, international students, students with lower socioeconomic status backgrounds, students with current mental health problems, students without any family members or friends who had used mental health services, and among those who believed that therapy or medication is not very helpful. [4]

A number of studies in the USA and Europe have looked at the negative beliefs that individuals hold about people with mental illness. There is, however, little work done in non-western societies on psychiatric stigma. Certain psychiatric disorders are either medicalized or stigmatized. Supernatural, religious, moralistic, and magical approaches to psychiatric illness exist in most societies. Stigmatization of people with mental disorders not only affects the way people seek help, but also can have enormous implications on the development of policy at a national level. [5]

Thus, we believe that stigma plays a crucial role in causing delays for access to mental health care among people with emotional and behavioral problems. We suggest that further research and development of strategies to reduce stigma among the mentally ill people in the community is strongly needed.

  References Top

1.Dickerson FB, Sommerville J, Origoni AE, Ringel NB, Parente F. Experiences of Stigma among Outpatients with Schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull 2002;28:143-55.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Aghukwa CN. Medical Students' beliefs and attitudes toward mental illness - Effects of a psychiatric education. Acad Psychiatry 2010;34:67-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Lai YM, Hong CP, Chee CY. Stigma of Mental Illness. Singapore Med J 2000;42:111-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Golberstein E, Eisenberg D, Gollust SE. Perceived stigma and mental health care seeking. Psychiatr Serv 2008;59:392-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Farooq N, Muhammad A, Zahid J, Muhammad I, Fayyaz H, David K. Stigma and psychiatric illness - A survey of attitude of medical students and doctors in Lahore, Pakistan. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 2006;18:46-9.  Back to cited text no. 5


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