Stigma against mental illness cuts across all age, religion, ethnic origin or socio-economic status. Similarly, self-stigma among psychiatric patients is also prevalent worldwide. The consequences of self-stigma are low self-esteem, increased severity of symptoms, low treatment adherence, increased rate of suicidality and decreased quality of life. Thus, this study aims to find the prevalence of self-stigma and its association with self-esteem of patients with mental illness in Nepal.
This was a cross-sectional study conducted among 180 patients with mental illness attending a psychiatric Outpatient Department (OPD). Non-probability purposive sampling technique was used for the study. The data was collected by face to face interview technique. Structured interview schedule questionnaire (brief version of internalized stigma scale and Rosenberg self-esteem scale) was used to collect the data. Descriptive statistics, inferential statistics and correlation analysis were used for data analysis. P value was set at 0.05.
Overall prevalence of self-stigma was 54.44%. Among those who had self-stigma 48% had mild self-stigma, 34.7% had moderate self-stigma and 17.3% had severe self-stigma. Among the five components of self-stigma scale, the highest mean score was on stereotype endorsement, followed by discrimination experience, social withdrawal, stigma resistance, and the lowest for the component of alienation. Furthermore, strong negative correlation (r = − 0.74) was found between self-stigma and self-esteem. The correlation was still significant (r = − 0.69) after controlling for socio-demographic and clinical variables. Hospital admission and diagnostic category of respondents were significantly associated with self-stigma. However, no significant association was found between socio-demographic variables and self-stigma.
Based on the findings of this study, it can be concluded that self-stigma is prevalent among psychiatric patients in Nepal. Most of the respondents experienced stereotype endorsement. Also, higher self-stigma is significantly associated with poor self-esteem suggesting self-stigma reduction programs. Furthermore, strong negative relationship between self-stigma and self-esteem suggests some causal relationship studies to confirm if self-esteem enhancement program can be beneficial to reduce self-stigma among psychiatric patients.