Stigmatization in Different Mental Health Services: A Comparison of Psychiatric and General Hospitals

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The earliest studies about stigmatization of persons receiving professional mental health care date from the time when psychiatric hospitals constituted the predominant facilities. The landscape of care has changed enormously since. Current research reveals that stigmatization still exists and has detrimental outcomes, not only for clients of psychiatric hospitals, but also for clients of so-called alternative settings. Studies that explicitly compare stigma experiences between different organizations are very scarce, however. This article compares clients from psychiatric and general hospitals according to three dimensions of stigmatization, using data from structured questionnaires (n = 555). The results reveal that when background characteristics are taken into account clients of psychiatric wards of general hospitals report less stigma expectations and social rejection experiences in comparison with their counterparts in psychiatric hospitals. Concerning self-rejection, no differences are found. These results suggest that more attention should be paid to specific characteristics of mental health services themselves in discussions about stigmatization and destigmatization of mental health care.

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