Mental Health Issues: What´s Stigma?

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Introduction The aim of this literature review is to examine stigma as an influential factor on help seeking behaviours for young adults with mental health issues. The terms stigma has been present and utilised first by the Greeks, who used the term to describe a marking which signified something unusual or corrupt about a person’s moral status (Goffman 1968, Davis 2006). It has been further modernised in Erving Goffman’s (1963) ‘’Stigma, Notes of the management of spoiled identity’’ but has largely stayed constant with its original connotations. Goffman’s (1963) work relates stigma to a discrediting feature, physical, behavioural or otherwise which devalues the possessor’s social identity in their given social context (Goffman 1963, Major and O’Brien, 2005). The discrediting feature in this instance being mental illness and the negative associations related to this type of distress (Hinshaw, 2007). Stigma however is arguably not in the possession of recipient but more so in the beholder, a social construction implanted in the beholder of what they and their societal context believe to be normal (Major and O’Brien, 2005, Östman and Kjellin, 2002, Goffman, 1963, Green et al 2005, Quinn and Chaudoir, 2009). Goffmans seminal work has been further conceptualised in the work of Link and Phelan (2001) which informs us that stigma is allowed to unfold when labelling, stereotyping, discrimination, separation and status loss are acted upon a person where a power differential is
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