Mental Health Stigma Across Cultures

Project Abstract

Mental health stigma is one of the most pressing issues faced by individuals with mental disorders. Stigma is often associated with perceptions rooted in the culture of the people group. Culture is defined as a way of life (thinking, feelings, behaviors) shared by a group of people for the subjective well-being of the group. This way of life is passed down from generation to generation and provides the group with the basic needs of survival (Matsumoto & Juang, 2016). Mental health stigma is commonly defined as negative attitudes and/or behaviors targeted toward individuals that appear to have a mental health disorder (Pescosolido, Medina, Martin, & Long, 2013). This study aims to examine the differences in mental health stigma, specifically related to people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, across English-speaking countries. In order to do this, we have selected three dimensions - power distance, femininity-masculinity, and individualism-collectivism from Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (2011). We seek to see how these dimensions of cultures may be associated with attitudes regarding mental illnesses and stigma. Power distance is a construct that explains and measures the gap between the common people and the leadership of any people group. Power distance also determines the strength of the social hierarchy, the society and the acceptance that power will be distributed unequally. Masculinity-femininity refers to a country’s attitudes towards gender roles rather than the level of an individual’s masculinity or femininity. Finally, individualism-collectivism dimension measures the degree to which populations are integrated into groups (Hofstede, 2011). It is therefore hypothesized that there will be a difference in stigma perception of individuals suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, between different cultures, and these differences would vary depending on the country. Secondly, countries that score higher on collectivism, have wider/longer power distances, and higher levels of masculinity are more likely to have poorer attitudes and stronger stigma associated with mental illness (schizophrenia or bipolar disorders).

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts


Psychology/Creative Writing


Bachelor of Science




Dr. Esther Malm

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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