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The lives of people with mental illness are worsened by stigma, thus leading to public prejudice, loss of self-worth, and negative implications for mental health and well-being. 

Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone's mental health problems, and delay or impede their getting help which can impact their recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental illness. Therefore, stigma and discrimination can exacerbate the cycle of mental illness.

The National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment (NCSE) is a research group meant to promote recovery by understanding stigma and promoting empowerment.  The Consortium is located at the Illinois Institute of Technology with a collection of researchers at Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, Temple University, the University of Wisconsin, Illinois State University, and the University of Chicago.

Honest Open Proud program

Self-stigma is one of the egregious impacts of mental illness stigma, a diminished sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy leading to a “why try” effect in many people: “why try get a regular job, someone like me doesn’t deserve it.”


Recently, innovative programs have emerged to challenge self-stigma, programs based in part on psychoeducation and cognitive reframing skills meant to challenge stigmatizing self-statements. An interesting result has emerged out of research by our group that informs an alternative program for dealing with self-stigma: the Honest, Open Proud program (HOPp).


Research shows those who have disclosed aspects of their mental illness frequently report a sense of personal empowerment that enhances self-esteem and promotes confidence to seek and achieve individual goals.


HOPp is a three-session group program run usually by pairs of trained leaders with lived experiences. HOPp has a comprehensive, user-friendly manual; step-by-step workbook and corresponding worksheets; fidelity measure; and leader training program which can be obtained from NCSE1.ORG.


The three lessons include:


1. Considering the Pros and Cons of Disclosing:

  • My identity and mental illness.

  • Secrets are part of life.

  • Weighing the costs and benefits of disclosing.


2. Different ways to Disclose:

  • Five ways to come out.

  • Testing a person for disclosure.

  • How might others respond to my disclosure?


3. Telling your Story:

  • How to tell a personally meaningful story.

  • Who are peers that might help me with coming out?

  • Review how telling my story felt.

  • Putting it all together to move forward.


The program is designed to aid in the facilitation of disclosure of certain aspects of lived experience with the objective of reducing the self-stigma associated with mental illness.

Dr. Patrick Corrigan Interview

Dr. Patrick Corrigan is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology and a leading expert on the topic of Stigma. Dr. Corrigan has written more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, is Editor Emeritus of the American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and Editor of Stigma and Health, a new journal published by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Corrigan is the author of many books, including The Stigma Effect: Unintended Consequences of Mental Health CampaignsThe Stigma of Disease and Disability: Understanding Causes and Overcoming Injustices, and is part of the team that developed the Honest, Open, Proud series which aims to reduce the stigma of mental illness.


Click the links below to find out more about Stigma & Mental Health

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