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Compulsory admission can be experienced as devaluing and stigmatising by people with mental illness. Emotional reactions to involuntary hospitalisation and stigma-related stress may affect recovery, but longitudinal data are lacking. We, therefore, examined the impact of stigma-related emotional reactions and stigma stress on recovery over a 2-year period.
Shame and self-contempt as emotional reactions to involuntary hospitalisation, stigma stress, self-stigma and empowerment, as well as recovery were assessed among 186 individuals with serious mental illness and a history of recent involuntary hospitalisation.
More shame, self-contempt and stigma stress at baseline were correlated with increased self-stigma and reduced empowerment after 1 year. More stigma stress at baseline was associated with poor recovery after 2 years. In a longitudinal path analysis more stigma stress at baseline predicted poorer recovery after 2 years, mediated by decreased empowerment after 1 year, controlling for age, gender, symptoms and recovery at baseline.
Stigma stress may have a lasting detrimental effect on recovery among people with mental illness and a history of involuntary hospitalisation. Anti-stigma interventions that reduce stigma stress and programs that enhance empowerment could improve recovery. Future research should test the effect of such interventions on recovery.
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