Perceptions of Mental Illness in Rural Nepal: Dimensions of Stigma and Their Social Origins
The signs and symptoms of mental illness, especially serious mental illness, are universally associated with stigma and discriminatory behavior. For these reasons, it is crucial that we understand the complex structure of stigma and its possible origins so that effective public policy and anti-stigma programs can be designed. We use data from a sample of 365 households in a small village in Nepal to empirically determine the range of stigmatic reactions (dimensionality and attributions of responsibility) to metal illness. We identified four dimensions; social exclusion, social distance, emotional distance and dangerousness. We found that measuring a number of separate dimensions of stigma as well as perceptions of causation yield a textured and complex view of stigma. It is our contention that cultural differences in the meaning of stigma and, therefore, societal responses to mental illness can be captured in a meaningful way by assessing the dimensions of stigma.
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