Self-Compassion Moderates the Relationship of Perceived Public and Anticipated Self-Stigma of Seeking Help

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Abstract

Help-seeking stigma is considered a major barrier that keeps people from seeking out psychological help. Self-compassion, or the act of treating oneself with kindness and non-judgment, is a possible protective factor that could be associated with diminished stigma. However, this possibility has yet to be studied. The present research (N = 369) examined whether a self-compassionate attitude toward oneself reduced the tendency for individuals to internalize perceived public stigma associated with seeking psychological help. It was predicted that self-compassion would moderate the effect of perceived public stigma on anticipated self-stigma of seeking help. Multiple regression results supported this hypothesis; among individuals endorsing greater perceived public stigma, those with high self-compassion reported lower anticipated self-stigma compared with those with low self-compassion. This suggests that self-compassion may buffer the negative effects of perceived public stigma on anticipated self-stigma by providing psychological resilience. These findings have important implications for the development of novel and effective approaches for reducing the negative psychological impact of stigma.

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