Self-stigma as a barrier to recovery: a longitudinal study

  • Nathalie Oexle
  • Mario Müller
  • Wolfram Kawohl
  • Ziyan Xu
  • Sandra Viering
  • Christine Wyss
  • Stefan Vetter
  • Nicolas Rüsch
Short Communication


Stigma limits life opportunities of persons with mental illness. Self-stigma, the internalization of negative stereotypes, undermines empowerment and could hinder recovery. Here we examined self-stigma’s effect on recovery among 222 disability pensioners with mental illness over 2 years, controlling for age, gender, symptoms and recovery at baseline measured by the Recovery Assessment Scale. More self-stigma at baseline was associated with a significant decrease in recovery after 1 year (not significant after 2 years). An increase of self-stigma from baseline to follow-up predicted less recovery 1 and 2 years later. Interventions that reduce self-stigma could therefore improve recovery.


Mental illness Self-stigma Recovery 



We are grateful to all participants.

Conflict of interest


Ethical approval

The study was approved by the ethics committee of the canton of Zurich (reference number: KEK-ZH-NR: 2010 − 0311/0).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalie Oexle
    • 1
  • Mario Müller
    • 2
  • Wolfram Kawohl
    • 2
  • Ziyan Xu
    • 1
  • Sandra Viering
    • 2
  • Christine Wyss
    • 2
  • Stefan Vetter
    • 2
  • Nicolas Rüsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry IIUniversity of Ulm and BKH GünzburgUlmGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Psychiatric HospitalUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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