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|Title:||SUFFERING IN SILENCE? THE EFFECTS OF THE STIGMATIZATION OF MENTAL ILLNESS ON LIFE SATISFACTION|
|Authors:||Codlin, Jennifer A.|
|Advisor:||Schormans, Ann Fudge|
|Keywords:||mental illness;stigma;life satisfaction;selective disclosure;performing;resiliency;recovery;coping mechanisms;Cognitive Behavioral Therapy;Mental Disorders;Psychiatric and Mental Health;Social Work;Cognitive Behavioral Therapy|
|Abstract:||<p>The term ‘stigma’ is formally defined as the assignment of negative perceptions to an individual because of perceived difference from the population at large (The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex). Stigma, pervasive on a micro, mezzo and macro level serves to devalue individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness and the support systems that are designed to assist them. Although efforts have been made in public awareness campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, stigma continues to limit opportunities and restrain individuals from living full and enriching lives. Many individuals “suffer in silence” often resorting to maladaptive coping mechanisms to manage symptoms.</p> <p>The purpose of this study was to uncover the short term and long term impact of stigma from the perspective of those who are labelled with mental illness in order to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of the effects of such on life satisfaction. Existing literature suggests that the result of anticipated and experienced stigma can affect individuals in multiple ways: diminished self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-worth; social withdrawal; identity ambivalence; secrecy and reduced opportunities (employment, housing, income).</p> <p>This research utilized qualitative semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation to gain an understanding of experienced and anticipated stigma as perceived by those with mental illness. Theoretically, the study was influenced by the modified labelling theory which posits that social and internalized stigma associated with mental illness is a societal creation in that its’ development exists as a result of disapproving social attitudes about mental illness. Eight individuals with various diagnosed mental disorders participated in the study. The findings suggest that for each of the participants in this study, initial dealings with the mental health care system and its’ components are likely to impact individuals negatively but once effective treatment, medication stabilization and a good practitioner are found, the experience becomes positive and empowering to individuals. Regardless of the level to which internalized stigma exists, all participants engaged in acts of secrecy, withdrawal, passing and selective disclosure adversely affecting life satisfaction. The implications for practice include recognizing the structural factors that influence clients’ internalization of stigma which likely contributes to feelings of empowerment and control over ones’ life. Revealing mental health status to others may be beneficial in contributing to an improved quality of life satisfaction.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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