S.GUNASEKARAN1, C.M.J.GOH1, S.SHAHWAN1, T.H.TAN1, M.SUBRAMANIAM1
Institute of Mental Health1
Mental health professionals (MHP) play an integral role in the treatment of persons with mental illnesses (PMI). However, research indicates that MHP may stigmatise against recipients of their care and may in turn be subjected to stigma. The purpose of this research was to understand the perspectives of MHP regarding stigma towards PMI, as well as forms of stigma they are subjected to by the public.
Seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted with MHP in Singapore, regarding their awareness of stigma among healthcare professionals and public’s reactions to their profession. The data was analysed using thematic method.
Three overarching themes, each with their own sub-themes, emerged from the analysis: (i) types of stigmatising behaviours among healthcare professionals, such as tendency to dismiss mental health conditions, negative beliefs about PMI, and diagnostic overshadowing, (ii) reasons for stigma among healthcare professionals, which includes peer and media influence, and inadequate training of professionals, and (iii) ways in which MHP are subjected to stigma, such as job devaluation, assumptions about MHP, and stigma in revealing profession to others.
The present study adds to stigma literature by gathering insights from MHP, providing a more holistic view. Several themes identified were akin to pre-existing studies, such as job devaluation, that was previously linked to professional burnout. Additionally, themes addressing reasons for stigma provided a unique perspective on the knowledge and efficacy gap in the field, serving as barriers to adequate treatment. It is recommended that the findings be utilized to guide the development of future anti-stigma initiatives.