Disentangling self-stigma: Are Mental illness and help-seeking self-stigmas different

Jeritt R. Tucker, Joseph H. Hammer, David L. Vogel, Rachel L. Bitman, Nathaniel G. Wade, Emily J. Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Two established but disparate lines of research exist: studies examining the self-stigma associated with mental illness and studies examining the self-stigma associated with seeking psychological help. Whereas some researchers have implicitly treated these 2 constructs as synonymous, others have made the argument that they are theoretically and empirically distinct. To help clarify this debate, we examined in the present investigation the overlap and uniqueness of the self-stigmas associated with mental illness and with seeking psychological help. Data were collected from a sample of college undergraduates experiencing clinical levels of psychological distress (N = 217) and a second sample of community members with a self-reported history of mental illness (N = 324). Confirmatory factor analyses provide strong evidence for the factorial independence of the 2 types of self-stigma. Additionally, results of regression analyses in both samples suggest that the 2 self-stigmas uniquely predict variations in stigma-related constructs (i.e., shame, self-blame, and social inadequacy) and attitudes and intentions to seek help. Implications for researchers and clinicians interested in understanding stigma and enhancing mental health service utilization are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-531
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Counseling
  • Help-seeking
  • Mental illness
  • Self-stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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