Self-stigma is the process whereby individuals expect to be discriminated against by society and in turn hold prejudicial beliefs about themselves. Self-stigma is particularly difficult for persons with severe mental disability (SMD) as they often experience stigma from the public and, thus, allow the public stigma to foster self-stigma. Public and self-stigma are theorised to be comprised of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. This paper proposes that in order to decrease self-stigma among persons with SMD, social work and mental health practitioners need to intervene on an individual and/or societal level to dispute stereotypes, prevent prejudices and combat discrimination. We propose an individual-level, anti-stigma approach utilising social constructivism, adaptive systems theory and narrative therapy to empower persons with SMD to reconstruct their sense of self that is free from stigma.
- adaptive systems theory
- narrative therapy
- social constructivism
- severe mental disability
Kondrat, D., & Teater, B. (2009). An Anti-Stigma Approach to Working with Persons with Severe Mental Disability: Seeking Real Change Through Narrative Change. Journal of Social Work Practice, 23(1), 35-47. https://doi.org/10.1080/02650530902723308