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Well-being among persons at risk of psychosis: The role of self-labeling, shame, and stigma stress


Rüsch, Nicolas; Corrigan, Patrick W; Heekeren, Karsten; Theodoridou, Anastasia; Dvorsky, Diane; Metzler, Sibylle; Müller, Mario; Walitza, Susanne; Rössler, Wulf (2014). Well-being among persons at risk of psychosis: The role of self-labeling, shame, and stigma stress. Psychiatric Services, 65(4):483-489.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE When young people at risk of psychosis experience early signs of the disorder or early intervention, they may label themselves as "mentally ill." However, empirical data related to the potentially harmful effects of self-labeling and stigma among young people at risk of psychosis are lacking. This study used a stress-coping model to examine mechanisms by which stigma may exert an impact on young people at risk of psychosis. METHODS The authors assessed self-reports of perceived public stigma, shame about having a mental illness, self-labeling, and the cognitive appraisal of stigma as a stressor (stigma stress) as predictors of well-being among 172 residents of Zürich, Switzerland, who were between 13 and 35 years old. All participants were at high risk or ultra-high risk of psychosis or at risk of bipolar disorder. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and well-being was measured by instruments that assessed quality of life, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. RESULTS Perceived public stigma, shame, and self-labeling were independently associated with increased stigma stress. More stigma stress, in turn, predicted reduced well-being, independent of age, gender, symptoms, and psychiatric comorbidity. Stigma stress partly mediated the effects of perceived public stigma, shame, and self-labeling on well-being. CONCLUSIONS Perceived public stigma, shame, and self-labeling appear to be associated with stigma stress and reduced well-being among young people at risk of psychosis. With early intervention programs gaining traction worldwide, effective strategies to address the shame and stigma associated with at-risk states and early psychosis are needed.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE When young people at risk of psychosis experience early signs of the disorder or early intervention, they may label themselves as "mentally ill." However, empirical data related to the potentially harmful effects of self-labeling and stigma among young people at risk of psychosis are lacking. This study used a stress-coping model to examine mechanisms by which stigma may exert an impact on young people at risk of psychosis. METHODS The authors assessed self-reports of perceived public stigma, shame about having a mental illness, self-labeling, and the cognitive appraisal of stigma as a stressor (stigma stress) as predictors of well-being among 172 residents of Zürich, Switzerland, who were between 13 and 35 years old. All participants were at high risk or ultra-high risk of psychosis or at risk of bipolar disorder. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and well-being was measured by instruments that assessed quality of life, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. RESULTS Perceived public stigma, shame, and self-labeling were independently associated with increased stigma stress. More stigma stress, in turn, predicted reduced well-being, independent of age, gender, symptoms, and psychiatric comorbidity. Stigma stress partly mediated the effects of perceived public stigma, shame, and self-labeling on well-being. CONCLUSIONS Perceived public stigma, shame, and self-labeling appear to be associated with stigma stress and reduced well-being among young people at risk of psychosis. With early intervention programs gaining traction worldwide, effective strategies to address the shame and stigma associated with at-risk states and early psychosis are needed.

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27 citations in Web of Science®
32 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:07 Mar 2014 16:14
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 02:57
Publisher:American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1075-2730
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300169
PubMed ID:24382666

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