Mental distress and 'self-stigma' in the context of support provision: exploring attributions of self-stigma as sanism

Armstrong, Victoria and Brandon, Toby (2019) Mental distress and 'self-stigma' in the context of support provision: exploring attributions of self-stigma as sanism. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 24 (1). pp. 41-48. ISSN 2042-8316

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the findings from a detailed qualitative PhD study exploring
experiences of stigma and discrimination in the lives of people in receipt of “mental health support” at two
voluntary sector organisations in the North East of England.
Design/methodology/approach – Empirical material was collected during two periods of three-month long
ethnographic periods of fieldwork from July to December of 2013 at two organisations providing
support to their members who experience or have experienced mental distress. Along with field notes taken
during and after periods of participant observation, the empirical material also included 30 interviews with
staff (n ¼ 10) and members (n ¼ 20) across both organisations, along with a series of three focus groups at
each organisation.
Findings – Staff at the organisations did not demonstrate obvious stigmatising or discriminatory attitudes or
behaviours. However, they did attribute “self-stigma” to particular attitudes and behaviours of some of the
members they support, referring to how they “made excuses”, “did not try” and/or “avoided situations”.
Originality/value – This paper argues that these attributions resulted from the misrecognition of members’
reactions to experiences of discrimination. The empirical material also suggests that these attributions of
self-stigma may be indicative of the material limitations of the support environment, the consequent
frustrations of well-intentioned staff, and, overall, as symptoms of neoliberalism. Drawing upon a Mad Studies
approach and focussing on self-stigma and its attribution in contemporary mental health support, this paper
provides a new perspective, which considers how stigma is linked to discrimination by rethinking what is
thought of as “self-stigma”.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: stigma, self-stigma, discrimination, sanism, mad studies
Subjects: C800 Psychology
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 14:06
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 11:47

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