Stigmatization and Self-Esteem of Persons in Recovery From Mental Illness: the Role of Peer Support

Department of Sociology, Ghent University.
International Journal of Social Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.15). 06/2008; 54(3):206-18. DOI: 10.1177/0020764008090422
Source: PubMed


Persons with mental health problems often experience stigmatization, which can have detrimental consequences for their objective and subjective quality of life. Previous research seeking for elements buffering this negative association focused on coping strategies and revealed that none of the most often used strategies is successful.
This article studies whether peer support among clients can moderate this negative link, and to what extent. Following the buffering hypothesis on stress and social support, it was expected that the association between stigmatization and self-esteem would be less among persons experiencing greater peer support.
This research problem was studied by means of ordinary least squares regression analysis using quantitative data from structured questionnaires completed by 595 clients of rehabilitation centres.
The results confirm that stigmatization is negatively related to self-esteem, while peer support is positively linked with it. Furthermore, they show that peer support moderates the negative association between stigmatization and self-esteem, but not in the expected way. These findings suggest that peer support can only have positive outcomes among clients with few stigma experiences, and that stigmatization itself could impede the formation and beneficial consequences of constructive peer relationships among persons receiving professional mental healthcare.

Download full-text


Available from: Piet F. Bracke,
  • Source
    • "a higher level of wellness then that of themselves (Coatsworth- Puspoky, Forchuk, & Ward-Griffin, 2006). This may also serve to increase self-esteem and decrease perceived self-stigma of living with a mental illness since connecting with others who are similar to themselves or have achieved a greater level of recovery provide a model for wellness (Verhaeghe, et. al., 2008). The drive to pursue a greater understanding of the potential for recovery from serious mental illness emerged from consumers of mental health and psychiatric services, public health policies, and data from longitudinal studies. Research suggests that recovery occurs among many people suffering with debilitating psychiatric illnesses ("

    Mental Illnesses - Evaluation, Treatments and Implications, 01/2012; , ISBN: 978-953-307-645-4
  • Source
    • "However, a negative attitude that resulted in maintaining a significant distance from the labelled person was associated with student's self-esteem: students with lower self-esteem were more prone to input stigma into distant relationship, while those whose selfesteem was higher stigmatized in closer relationships. From the literature, we know that self-esteem is an important factor for the evaluation of self-stigma (Link et al., 2001; Verhaeghe et al., 2008), but little is known about the self-esteem of stigmatizers. Crandall and Cohen (1994) evaluated personality of stigmatizer and concluded that two factors predicted rejection: (1) a cynical world view, characterized by alienation, loneliness and little faith in people and (2) conventionalism, characterized by authoritarianism and a belief in a just world. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKROUND: Stigmatization of psychiatric patients is present both in the general population and among healthcare professionals. To determine the attitudes and behaviour of medical students towards a person who goes to a psychiatrist, before and after psychiatric rotation, and to compare those attitudes between medical and non-medical students. The study included 525 medical students (second and sixth year of studies) and 154 students of law. The study instrument was a three-part self-reported questionnaire (socio-demographic data, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and a vignette depicting a young, mentally healthy person). The experimental intervention consisted of ascribing a 'psychiatric label' to only one set of vignettes. All the vignettes (with or without the 'psychiatric label') were followed by 14 statements addressing the acceptance of a person described by vignette, as judged by social distance (four-point Likert scale). Higher tendency to stigmatize was found in medical students in the final year, after psychiatric rotation (Z(U) = -3.12, p = .002), particularly in a closer relationship (Z(U) = -2.67, p = .007) between a student and a hypothetical person who goes to a psychiatrist. The non-medical students had a similar tendency to stigmatize as medical students before psychiatric rotation (Z(U) = -0.03, p = .975). Neither gender, nor the size of student's place of origin or average academic mark was associated with the tendency to stigmatize in our sample. However, student's elf-esteem was lower in those with a tendency to stigmatize more in a distant relationship (ρ = -0.157, p = .005). Psychiatric education can either reinforce stigmatization or reduce it. Therefore, detailed analyses of educational domains that reinforce stigma will be the starting point for anti-stigma action.
    International Journal of Social Psychiatry 06/2011; 58(5):455-62. DOI:10.1177/0020764011408542 · 1.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "However, none of these strategies was related to better social functioning or better mental health. Nevertheless, some evidence both for PWMI (Rüsch et al., 2009b; Verhaeghe et al., 2008) and for other stigmatized groups (Frable et al., 1998; Tajfel and Turner, 1986) suggests that people who hold their group in positive regard, ascribe positive attributes to the group members and associate with them, experience better mental health. Hence, stigmatized groups seem to have developed effective strategies for dealing with their low status, which go beyond what has been researched to date for PWMI. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To date, there has been little research into effective strategies for preventing the detrimental effects of stigma on the well-being of people with mental illness. The present research set out to identify adaptive strategies for dealing with the stigma of mental illness. On the basis of the responses of 355 people with mental illness (PWMI) a standardized questionnaire assessing 10 identity management strategies was developed. Participants also reported their personal experiences with stigma, depression and self-esteem. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that after controlling for depression and stigmatizing experiences, the strategies of community involvement, humour and positive ingroup stereotyping were related to higher self-esteem. Secrecy, selective disclosure and attempts at overcompensation or disproving stereotypes were related to lower self-esteem. The following strategies were unrelated to self-esteem: comparing the present social position of PWMI with that in the past, normalization of the illness within a medical model, information seeking and selective withdrawal. PWMI should be encouraged to seek support within their community and to develop a positive image of their ingroup.
    International Journal of Social Psychiatry 03/2011; 58(3):246-57. DOI:10.1177/0020764010392058 · 1.15 Impact Factor
Show more