Perceived Mental Illness Stigma Among Youth in Psychiatric Outpatient Treatment

Katherine S. Elkington, Dusty Hackler, Karen McKinnon, Cristiane Borges, Eric R. Wright, Milton L. Wainberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    28 Scopus citations


    This research explores the experiences of mental illness stigma in 24 youth (58.3% male, 13-24 years, 75% Latino) in psychiatric outpatient treatment. Using Link and Phelan's (2001) model of stigmatization, we conducted thematic analysis of the interview texts, examining experiences of stigma at individual and structural levels, in addition to the youths' social-psychological processes. Youth in psychiatric treatment acknowledged that their larger cultural context holds pejorative viewpoints toward those with mental illness and reported experiences of stigma within their families and social networks. Our results also offer insight into the social-psychological processes of stigma, highlighting how labeling may influence their self-concept and the strategies in which youth engage to manage a stigmatized identity. We discuss differences in stigma experiences by gender, age, and diagnosis. Findings provide new information on the stigma experiences of youth in psychiatric treatment and suggest that a multilevel approach to reduce stigma is warranted.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)290-317
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


    • adolescents
    • mental illness
    • psychiatric disorders
    • stigma
    • young adults

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science

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    Elkington, K. S., Hackler, D., McKinnon, K., Borges, C., Wright, E. R., & Wainberg, M. L. (2012). Perceived Mental Illness Stigma Among Youth in Psychiatric Outpatient Treatment. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27(2), 290-317.