Category: Schizophrenia / Psychotic Disorders

Symposium

Sense of Belonging as a Moderator of Self-Stigma Among People With Serious Mental Illness

Saturday, November 18
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Aqua Salon A & B, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Severe Mental Illness | Stigma | Cross Cultural / Cultural Differences
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: Self-stigma has a known and significant impact for people with serious mental illness (SMI), including associations with poor self-esteem, less mental health care engagement, and increased depression. Evidence from other marginalized groups indicates that sense of belonging may mitigate some of the impact of self-stigma. This presentation will discuss a study that investigated how sense of belonging impacts people with SMI in general, and how those effects differ depending on self-identification in other marginalized groups (i.e., racial and gender minorities).


Method: 267 adults with SMI currently receiving treatment in community-based day rehabilitation programs participated in this study. The participants completed measures including demographic information, self-stigma, exposure to stigma, and sense of belonging.


Results: Sense of belonging buffered the relationship between exposure to stigma and self-stigma. Self-identification in other marginalized groups did not impact the buffering effect. For people experiencing higher levels of exposure to stigma, higher sense of belonging was associated with lower self-stigma. However, for people experiencing lower levels of exposure to stigma, higher sense of belonging is associated with higher self-stigma.


Conclusions: Based on our findings, sense of belonging is an important protective construct against self-stigma for people who are highly exposed to stigma experiences. Contrary to expectations, being a double minority did not impact this relationship. Self-stigma interventions should integrate components that improve sense of belonging, including community integration. These components should be flexible to meet the cultural context of individual consumers.

Emily Treichler

Postdoctoral Fellow
VA San Diego MIRECC/UC San Diego

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