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Relationship between perceived and personal mental health care stigma

11 May 2015


Previous research has found that stigma is a significant barrier to seeking mental health care services, resulting in underutilization of effective mental health treatments. This study examined the relationship between perceived stigma for seeking psychological help and personal stigma of others for seeking psychological help in a sample of adults in the United States (N=267). In addition, the relationships of mental health knowledge and previous experience with mental illness with stigma were examined. Results revealed that the mean perceived stigma score (M = 9.80, SD = 4.59) was significantly greater than the mean personal stigma score (M = 6.73, SD = 3.26), t = 11.14, p < .001. Mental health knowledge was significantly negatively correlated to personal stigma (r = -.42, p < .001). People with previous exposure to mental health care (M = 10.19, SD = 4.77) on average perceived more stigma than those without previous exposure (M = 8.79, SD = 3.88), t = -2.45, p = .02; however, results revealed no significant difference in personal stigma between people in the previous exposure condition and people in the no previous exposure condition. The findings of this study could be used to inform the development of stigma reduction interventions with the ultimate goal of increasing mental health care utilization by people in need of services.


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