Self-Stigma, Personality Traits, and Willingness to Seek Treatment in a Community Sample

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Abstract

Stigma has received attention as a major barrier toward effective mental health service delivery, and previous research has demonstrated that the Five-Factor Model (FFM) domain of Openness to Experience is negatively correlated with stigmatized views of mental health. However, a lack of established relationships between personality and self-stigma, as well as how these concepts affect an individual’s treatment-seeking intentions, has left a gap in the literature. To address this, our study recruited a low-income community sample and tested (a) the relationship between self-stigma of mental health treatment and the FFM, (b) the relationship between self-stigma and treatment-seeking intentions, and (c) the incremental validity of FFM personality beyond stigma in the prediction of treatment seeking. Results suggest that there is some incongruence with previous research on personality’s relationship to stigma, personality does not act as an additive component in the prediction of the relationship between stigma and treatment seeking, and stigma is related only to the perceived need for mental health treatment but not to an individual’s openness to seek that treatment. The discussion concludes with implications for the contextualization and treatment of stigma as a barrier for mental health treatment and a general synthesis of the personality trait profiles for those holding stigmatizing views of mental health.

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