Discrimination against people with a mental health diagnosis: qualitative analysis of reported experiences



Sarah Hamilton, Elanor Lewis-Holmes, Vanessa Pinfold, Claire Henderson, Diana Rose, Graham Thornicroft

Journal of Mental Health

March 24, 2014. (doi:10.3109/09638237.2014.880408)







Background: Discrimination towards people with a mental health diagnosis has public health implications. Recently, efforts have been made to tackle discrimination through campaigns and education. Understanding experiences of discrimination is vital in targeting efforts effectively.

Aims: The study aimed to explore experiences of reported discrimination described by service users in a national survey in England.

Method: Structured telephone interviews were conducted with 537 mental health service users, randomly selected from five National Health Service Trusts in England. Interviews asked about experiences of discrimination in different life areas. Twenty-three interviews were audio-recorded and qualitatively analysed to develop a typology of discrimination experiences.

Results: We identified seven types: organisational decisions; mistreatment; social distancing; stereotyping; lack of understanding; dismissiveness; and over-protectiveness.

Conclusions: Discrimination should be understood as occurring within social relationships and influenced by expectations of contact within these relationships. A better understanding of these processes can help target more effective messages in anti-discrimination campaigns.