Mental Health Stigma and Gender

Stigma refers to the linking of negative stereotypes (widely regarded beliefs about a group) to a label denoting membership in a marginalized group, such as “mentally ill.” Common negative stereotypes about mental illness include beliefs of dangerousness, unpredictability, inability to recover, lack of intelligence, and weakness. Stigmatizing attitudes are believed to be acquired during childhood through general socialization processes. These attitudes may then be reinforced during adulthood through exposure to media presentations that emphasize negative stereotypes. Stigmatizing attitudes may also lead to exclusionary behaviors, including overt discrimination (e.g., in housing or employment) and social rejection behaviors. In addition to the challenges posed by discrimination and social rejection, people diagnosed with mental illness may also experience a decline in self-esteem and self-efficacy as a result of ...

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