New study from 'see me' and SRN examines the prevalence of self-stigma in society
"Pushing Back - A pilot study on self-stigma in Scotland" was laucnhed on 29th May 2012, and it calls for more to be done to tackle the self-stigma of mental ill-health amongst service providers and the NHS. The new report, commissioned by ‘see me’ and the SRN, has identified that the biggest areas of potential improvement lie with service providers and professionals and practitioners in the health sector.
The report found that if these particular frontline staff had a greater awareness and understanding of self-stigma their interactions could be more sensitive, and so provide a better pathway to recovery for many mental health patients. The report found that self-stigma was rife amongst people who experience mental ill-health, with almost two thirds of people feeling that mental ill-health had spoiled their lives. Some 59 per cent of the respondents felt disappointed in themselves because they had a mental health problem, while 44 per cent agreed that stereotypes about people with mental ill-health problems applied to them.
The study found that self-stigma is perpetuated across seven key areas of life including; society (openness about mental health problems), community (discrimination), active service use (and disclosure of this), workplace (attitudes and doubting capabilities), family (disappointment & worthlessness), the individual (acting responsibly and taking care with appearance) and medical / professional diagnoses (negative labelling and low expectations of recovery).
With self-stigma frequently contributing to loss of hope, low confidence and self esteem, withdrawal and social isolation and unease sharing their experiences or issues, the impact of self-stigma can be far reaching, often blighting lives and holding back recovery. However through support and understanding about self-stigma from frontline staff and health professionals, the report found that people were able to find coping strategies that helped them mitigate self stigma and move forward on a recovery path.
By exposing the prevalence of self-stigma in society, ‘see me’ and SRN want to challenge societal views about mental ill-health and teach people why perceptions can be so wrong. This pilot study is the first step in that direction in Scotland.
Suzie Vestri, ‘see me’ Campaign Director says: “This study makes it clear that self-stigma can have huge impact on those with mental ill-health. Let’s be clear – it is other people’s negative attitudes towards mental illness that are the root cause of self-stigma. Just when people with mental ill-health most need support, they are encouraged to think of themselves as ‘less than’, as people without any hope of recovery or of positive future lives. It is no wonder that people with mental illness come to internalise those messages and believe that they are somehow at fault for being ill.
“‘see me’ is dedicated to campaigning against all types of stigma including self-stigma which people with mental ill-health experience. This study is an important step forward in helping us empower people right across society to challenge all types of stigma associated with mental ill-health.”
Dr Andrew McArthur from The Social Marketing Gateway added: “One in three people with a mental health problem experience self-stigma. It is clear from this study that we need to continue to challenge societal perceptions of mental ill-health, increase awareness and understanding of self-stigma amongst service providers, especially health professionals, and support mental health service users push back on self-stigma”.
The report can be downloaded here.