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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2009 Apr;79(2):261-74. doi: 10.1037/a0015696.

Stigma and self-concept among adolescents receiving mental health treatment.

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  • School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA. moses@wisc.edu


Although studies indicate that adolescents diagnosed with mental disorders are stigmatized by the American public, we know very little about the extent to which stigma is experienced by these youth and its effects on their well-being. This cross-sectional study utilizes interviews with 60 adolescents treated in a wraparound program to examine: (a) the extent to which adolescents diagnosed and treated for psychiatric disorders experience mental illness stigma and cope by using secrecy, (b) the extent to which stigmatization is associated with self-concept (self-esteem, mastery, future outlook) and morale (depression), and (c) which clinical and demographic characteristics are associated with perceived stigma. A secondary purpose was to explore the usefulness with adolescents of stigma measures created and adapted primarily from Link's adult stigma scales (Link et al., 1991, 1997). The results support both optimistic and pessimistic interpretations regarding stigma and its effects on adolescents diagnosed and treated for mental disorders. The scales developed for this study demonstrate good internal consistency and construct validity and show promise as tools for further research on stigma as experienced by youth.

(c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.

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