Session Resources S027: “The Stigma and Self-Stigma Coping Strategies of Parents of Children with Diagnosed Mental Health Problems”

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By September 9, 2015 No Comments

Authors: Kim Eaton, Jeneva. L. Ohan, Patrick. W. Corrigan

Year: 2015

Event: 2015 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Stigma, Human Rights, Legal issues

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: Parents often encounter stigma in their community, such as blame for their child?s problem and criticism regarding the quality of their parenting (Moses, 2010). Many parents identify with, and internalise, these stigmatic experiences as self-stigma (Corrigan & Miller, 2004). Self-stigma may take the form of self-blame, self-deprecation, shame, and status loss. Given these negative effects, the aim of this study was to understand how parents cope with stigma and self-stigma. To do this, we conducted 12 semi-structured interviews and two focus groups with parents of children (aged 4-13) diagnosed with emotional and behavioural problems. Data was analysed using a descriptive phenomenological approach. We found that parents coped with stigma and self-stigma in many ways, including: seeking support from empathic others, engaging in self-directed social isolation, becoming hypervigilant to stigma, correcting others, and advocating for the child. All parents reported that protecting the child from stigma was a priority over and above any desire to protect the self. In sum, our results suggest that parents cope with stigma in different ways, some more adaptive than others. These results will be discussed alongside suggestions for helping parents to engage in more adaptive stigma and self-stigma coping strategies.

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