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Psychiatry Res. 2016 Dec 30;246:16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.09.013. Epub 2016 Sep 13.

Common sense model of mental illness: Understanding the impact of cognitive and emotional representations of mental illness on recovery through the mediation of self-stigma.

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Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Electronic address:


The present study applied the common sense model to understand the underlying mechanism of how cognitive and emotional representations of mental illness among people in recovery of mental illness would impact their endorsement of self-stigma, and how that would, in turn, affect clinical and personal recovery. A cross-sectional survey was administered to 376 people in recovery. Participants were recruited from seven public specialty outpatient clinics and substance abuse assessment clinics across various districts in Hong Kong. They were asked to report their perception towards their mental illness, self-stigma, symptom severity, and personal recovery. The results of structural equation modeling partially supported the hypothesized mediation model indicating that controllability, consequences, and emotional concern of mental illness, but not cause, timeline, and identity, were associated with self-stigma, which was subsequently negatively associated with clinical and personal recovery. The present study demonstrated the mediating role of self-stigma in the relationship between individuals' illness representations towards their mental illness and their recovery. Illness management programs aimed at addressing the maladaptive mental illness-related beliefs and emotions are recommended. Implications on developing self-directed and empowering mental health services are discussed.


Clinical recovery; Common sense model; Illness perception; Personal recovery; Self-stigma

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