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Health Research Board-funded study identifies stigma faced by people hospitalised for mental illness

1 December 2011

People who spend time in hospital for mental illness need better preparation before discharge to help them cope with negative attitudes

People who have spent time in hospital for mental illness face stigma when they return to the community setting, a Health Research Board-funded study has found

The study is one of over 40 projects highlighted in the Health Research Board?s annual Picture of Health 2011 publication.

Launched on Thursday December 1st, the HRB Picture of Health communicates the findings of recently funded research to a general audience.

It includes the findings of HRB-funded researcher Dr Brian Keogh at Trinity College Dublin who interviewed 31 service users who were hospitalised for mental illness and then returned to the community setting.

Around 70 per cent of total admissions to psychiatric hospitals are readmissions, suggesting that many people do not transition well back into the community, and Dr Keogh?s research suggests that stigma is a problem they face.

?The participants felt ashamed that they were admitted to hospital, and when they came home from hospital this sense of shame was often reinforced by other people,? says Dr Keogh, who is a Lecturer in Psychiatric Nursing at Trinity College Dublin.

?Mostly they managed this through concealing their mental health problems. They didn?t tell anyone about them, and often they avoided other people completely and often other people avoided them.?

The findings indicate that better preparation is needed for mental health service users before discharge from hospital, he adds.

?People who use the mental health services need to be made aware that stigma is an issue and they need to be given skills and strategies to be better prepared to react or cope with stigma.?

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