Are mental illnesses stigmatized for the same reasons? Identifying the stigma-related beliefs underlying common mental illnesses

Anne C. Krendl, Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Although mental health stigmatization has myriad pernicious consequences, it remains unknown whether mental disorders are stigmatized for the same reasons. Aims: This study identified the stigma-related beliefs that were associated with several common mental illnesses (Study 1), and the extent to which those beliefs predicted stigmatization (Study 2). Methods: In Study 1, we used multidimensional scaling to identify the stigma-related beliefs attributed to nine common mental disorders (e.g. depression, schizophrenia). Study 2 explored whether beliefs commonly associated with depression predicted its stigmatization. Results: In Study 1, we found that the nine mental illnesses differed from each other on two dimensions: social desirability and controllability. In Study 2, we found that regardless of participants’ own depression status, their perceptions that depression is controllable predicted depression-related stigmatization. Conclusions: Our results suggest that stigmatization toward different mental illnesses stem from combinations of different stigmatized beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2019



  • Controllability
  • depression
  • mental health stigma
  • reverse correlation
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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