Stigma: a Unique Source of Distress for Family Members of Individuals with Mental Illness
Anjana Muralidharan PhD, Alicia Lucksted PhD, Deborah Medoff PhD, Li Juan Fang MS, Lisa Dixon MD, MPH
The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research
To distinguish the impact of mental illness stigma from that of other negative caregiving experiences, this study examined the unique relationships between stigma and caregiver/family functioning. Adult relatives (n = 437) of individuals with mental illness completed questionnaires regarding caregiving experiences, distress, empowerment, and family functioning, as part of a larger study. Regression analyses examined the relationship between stigma and caregiver/family variables, while controlling for other negative caregiving experiences. Stigma was uniquely associated with caregiver distress, empowerment, and family functioning. Mental illness stigma is a potent source of distress for families and an important target of family services.