Prevalence of Internalized Stigma among Persons with Severe Mental Illness

Michelle L. West, Philip T. Yanos, Stephen M. Smith, David Roe, Paul H. Lysaker


Purpose: There is evidence that internalized stigma significantly impacts the lives of people with severe mental illness. Nevertheless, there is little data on the prevalence of clinically significant internalized stigma. This study investigated the current prevalence and demographic correlates of significantly elevated levels of internalized stigma in two samples of people with severe mental illness living in the community.

Method: A total of 144 people (79.9% males, 20.1% females) participated, completing a demographic form and the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness scale.

Results: Overall, 36% of the sample had elevated internalized stigma scores using a cutoff criterion. Participants in the middle of the age distribution had the highest scores, and there was a site difference. No other demographic variables studied were related to overall internalized stigma.

Conclusions: We conclude that internalized stigma affects a relatively high percentage of people with severe mental illness.



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