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Internalized stigma of mental illness: Changes and associations with treatment outcomes [2017]

Internalized stigma of mental illness is associated with poor mental health and represents a prominent barrier to accessing treatment. Few studies have investigated the effects of cognitive–behavioral treatment approaches on internalized stigma, particularly without a targeted stigma intervention. The current study examined the relationship between internalized stigma and depression, anxiety, quality of life, functioning, and physical health among patients with a range of psychiatric diagnoses in a short-term, partial hospitalization program. Results suggested that internalized stigma was associated with worse mental and physical health at baseline, and stigma levels decreased over the course of treatment. Reduction in internalized stigma was associated with improvement in symptom severity, functioning, and quality of life. The components of treatment settings and cognitive–behavioral interventions that may reduce internalized stigma are discussed, along with their potential to improve health if extended to the public sphere.

Pearl, R. L., Forgeard, M. J. C., Rifkin, L., Beard, C., & Björgvinsson, T.

Stigma and Health, 2(1), 2017

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