3The Stigma of Families with Mental Illness

Natalie R. Gela and Patrick W. Corrigan

Families with mental illness are confronted with many obstacles. Not only do people diagnosed with mental illness experience stigma, but family members face similar experiences through their association with the person who has been diagnosed with the illness. Erving Goffman (1963) called this courtesy stigma. We refer to “family stigma” as an efficient way to talk about the prejudice and discrimination experienced by people because of their relationship with relatives who have been diagnosed with mental illness. The family stigma process negatively impacts individuals in numerous ways. Family members may avoid social situations, spend energy and resources on hiding the secret of mental illness, and experience discrimination within employment and/or housing situations.

In this chapter, we first briefly review models of how mental illness stigma affects diagnosed individuals, and then extend this to how ...

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