Measuring internalized stigma of mental illness among Chinese outpatients with mood disorders

Meghan L. Smith, Lawrence H. Yang, Debbie Huang, Kathleen M. Pike, Chengmei Yuan, Zhen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Internalized stigma is a barrier to mental health care in China, and stigma reduction is expected to promote treatment utilization, especially for mood disorders and schizophrenia. We aimed to identify the most common domains of internalized stigma of mental illness and to test the hypothesis that people with more severe mood disorders evidence more internalized stigma than those with less severe disorders. The Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI) was administered to 366 outpatients with various mood disorders in Shanghai. Reliability statistics were calculated and frequently-endorsed items were identified. The magnitude of internalized stigma was compared among diagnostic categories and among sociodemographic groups. Except for stigma resistance, the ISMI and its subscales had good internal consistency. Across subgroups, stereotype endorsement was most commonly reported. Bipolar (versus depressive) disorders, male gender, and less education were associated with more internalized stigma, especially social withdrawal. Contrasting findings in Western countries, those with family history of mental illness trended toward more internalized stigma. We conclude that anti-stigma interventions should focus on reducing social withdrawal and stereotype endorsement, especially for those with more severe mood disorders, males, less educated individuals, and those with family history of mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-535
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • China
  • bipolar
  • depression
  • internalized stigma
  • mental illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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