“Get over it and move on”: The impact of mental illness stigma in rural, low-income United States populations [2019]

Understanding the stigma associated with mental health concerns is essential to increasing utilization of mental health services in rural, economically deprived communities. This research study examined mental illness stigma in a sample of rural, low-income mental healthcare consumers and explored preferred attributes in mental healthcare providers that may help combat stigma. Qualitative methodology using a qualitative content analysis approach was used to reach an understanding of the subjective experiences of 53 (N = 53) rural, low-income persons who received mental health treatment. In regards to views that my cause stigma, the themes Faking and Pretending; Get Over It!; and God is all you Need were identified. The theme Fear and Shame was identified in relation to how participants perceived their experiences with a mental illness. Regarding the possible negative consequences of seeking help for mental health concerns, the theme Negative Judgement and Perceived as Weak was identified. Finally, the most noted preferred attribute in a mental health provider was to be Nonjudgmental and an Active Listener. The results suggest that the influence of stigma, mental health literacy, how to treat a mental health concern, and help-seeking behaviors are distinctive in rural, low-income populations. Implications for mental health counseling and research are discussed.

Loni Crumb, Taryne M. Mingo, Allison Crowe
Mental Health & Prevention, Volume 13, March 2019