A Concept Analysis of Mental Health Stigma


Patients with mental health issues face a variety of challenges when trying to blend into society. Stigma, as it pertains to mental health care, is among such challenges, and this discussion will focus on this concept. The chosen concept is closely related to one practice problem that my colleagues and I experience. The practice problem is that patients with stigmatized mental illnesses often internalize negative stereotypes about their conditions, which affects medication administration, attitudes to treatment, and the effectiveness of nurse-patient communication activities. This paper summarizes takeaways from a concept analysis of mental health stigma and the proposed research topic.

Concept Analysis

The selected concept was analyzed using the strategies proposed by Walker and Avant. The first two stages of analysis are concept selection and purpose determination (Schiller, 2018). The concept of stigma has real-life applications, and the purpose of analysis involved distinguishing between the everyday usage of this term and its definitions in modern literature on mental health. The third step required identifying all meanings of the concept (Schiller, 2018). The chosen concept finds usage in different fields and disciplines, including nursing, medicine, psychology, and social studies. Historically, the term was used to denote a mark of disgrace, and mental disease has gradually become one of such marks, which finds reflection in the systematic mistreatment of those demonstrating the symptoms and signs of mental illnesses (Bonfils et al., 2018; Valentine et al., 2016). Based on current literature, mental health stigma is associated with barriers to healthcare and treatment-seeking behaviors, low self-esteem, reductions in perceived self-worth, and other issues (Bonfils et al., 2018; Corrigan et al., 2017; Valentine et al., 2016). Thus, the concept finds extensive use in various fields dealing with disease and interpersonal communication.

Within the next step, the defining attributes of mental health stigma, such as stereotypical views, labeling, discrimination, and separation from society, have been identified based on the term’s uses in the literature. The attributes were then applied to outline a hypothetical model case (the case demonstrating all attributes) and borderline/related cases (some attributes are represented) (Schiller, 2018). The identified antecedents of mental health stigma are mental health conditions, prejudice, blame, and the lack of knowledge, whereas the consequences include a sense of inferiority, isolation, discrimination, hopelessness, and treatment avoidance (Bonfils et al., 2018; Corrigan et al., 2017; Valentine et al., 2016). Among the relevant empirical referents are a person’s reluctance to seek treatment, the desire to isolate oneself from society, and the unwillingness to discuss the disease with others. In general, the clarified concept refers to the process when a person’s differences resulting from mental illness make the public or particular individuals treat this person unfairly, with prejudice, or with reference to stereotypes about the condition.

Proposed Research Topic

The research topic that can facilitate improvement refers to the roles of mental health nurses in reducing the effects of stigma on patients with mental health diagnoses. Particularly, it can be beneficial to explore care practices, communication strategies, and nursing interventions that can reduce mental health patients’ risks of developing internalized stigma and experiencing its potential negative effects on treatment outcomes. Self-stigma, defined as the tendency to internalize negative stereotypes about one’s diagnosis, has been researched in schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders (Bonfils et al., 2018). Internalized stigma is supposed to discourage individuals from seeking professional help and can be linked to more severe depressive symptoms, thus affecting treatment needs and outcomes (Bonfils et al., 2018). Psychoeducation is known to be a helpful tool for reducing self-stigma in patients with psychiatric disorders (Yanos et al., 2016). Next, nurse-delivered psychoeducation interventions in mental health settings can promote positive outcomes for patients (Ameel et al., 2019). However, mental health nurses’ role in the delivery of psychoeducation aimed at reducing patients’ self-stigma is not addressed in the literature, which suggests the need for research in this area.

Importance to Nursing Practice

The concept of stigma and the proposed research topic are relevant and significant to nursing practice since mental health nurses belong to the groups that can potentially impact the levels of stigmatization affecting patients with mental health diagnoses. If their understanding of psychiatric issues and their causes is complete and they demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills and knowledge, mental health nurses can promote the reduction of stigma and self-stigmatization by instilling a sense of self-worth in their patients and preventing harmful stereotypes from affecting their approaches to nurse-patient communication. Self-stigma in patients may complicate the process of recovery, create negative attitudes toward treatment, and lead to harmful behaviors, including attempts to refuse pharmaceutical treatment. These problems affect the effectiveness of collaboration between patients and care providers. By researching psychiatric nurses’ role in the reduction of self-stigma through the provision of anti-stigma psychoeducation, it is possible to enrich nursing practice and increase these care providers’ opportunity to positively impact patients’ self-esteem and the chances of recovery.


Finally, mental health stigma and its effects on patients with diagnosed disorders and nurse-patient collaboration present a significant problem within mental healthcare. As per the conducted concept analysis, stigma in mental health involves a range of negative consequences, including reduced psychological well-being and changes in attitudes to treatment, and it can be internalized. To reduce the effects of internalized stereotypes on care and treatment outcomes, it may be essential to study nurses’ opportunities to combat self-stigma in patients.


Ameel, M., Kontio, R., & Välimäki, M. (2019). Interventions delivered by nurses in adult outpatient psychiatric care: An integrative review. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 26(9-10), 301-322. Web.

Bonfils, K. A., Lysaker, P. H., Yanos, P. T., Siegel, A., Leonhardt, B. L., James, A. V., Brustuen, B., Luedtke, B., & Davis, L. W. (2018). Self-stigma in PTSD: Prevalence and correlates. Psychiatry Research, 265, 7-12. Web.

Corrigan, P., Schomerus, G., Shuman, V., Kraus, D., Perlick, D., Harnish, A., Kulesza, M., Kane-Willis, K., Qin, S., & Smelson, D. (2017). Developing a research agenda for understanding the stigma of addictions. Part I: Lessons from the mental health stigma literature. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(1), 59-66. Web.

Schiller, C. J. (2018). Teaching concept analysis to graduate nursing students. Nursing Forum, 53(2), 248-254.

Valentine, S. E., Dixon, L., Borba, C. P., Shtasel, D. L., & Marques, L. (2016). Mental illness stigma and engagement in an implementation trial for cognitive processing therapy at a diverse community health center: A qualitative investigation. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 9(2), 139-150.

Yanos, P. T., Lucksted, A., Drapalski, A. L., Roe, D., & Lysaker, P. (2016). Interventions targeting mental health self-stigma: A review and comparison. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 1-14.

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