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Overview of Stigma against Psychiatric Illnesses and Advancements of Anti-Stigma Activities in Six Asian Societies

  • zhang, zhisong
  • sun, kaising
  • jatchavala, chonnakarn
  • koh, john
  • chia, yimian
  • bose, jessica
  • zhimeng, li
  • tan, wanqiu
  • wang, sizhe
  • chu, wenjing
  • wang, jiayun
  • tran, bach
  • roger, ho
Publication Date
Dec 31, 2019
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Background: In psychiatry, stigma is an attitude of disapproval towards people with mental illnesses. Psychiatric disorders are common in Asia but some Asians receive inadequate treatment. Previous review found that Asians with mental illness were perceived to be dangerous and aggressive. There is a need for renewed efforts to understand stigma and strategies which can effectively reduce stigma in specific Asian societies. The objective of this systematic review was to provide an up-to-date overview of existing research and status on stigma experienced by psychiatric patients and anti-stigma campaigns in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Korea, and Thailand. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in the following databases, including PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, Web of Science, and local databases. Studies published in English and the official language of included countries/territories were considered for inclusion in the systematic review. Any article on stigma related to any form of psychiatric illness in the six Asian societies was included. Results: One hundred and twenty-three articles were included for this systematic review. This review has six major findings. Firstly, Asians with mental illnesses were considered as dangerous and aggressive, especially patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder / second, psychiatric illnesses in Asian societies were less socially-acceptable and were viewed as being personal weaknesses / third, stigma experienced by family members was pervasive and this is known as family stigma / fourth, this systemic review reported more initiatives to handle stigma in Asian societies than a decade ago / fifth, there have been initiatives to treat psychiatric patients in the community / and sixth, the role of supernatural and religious approaches to psychiatric illness was not prevailing. Conclusion: This systematic review provides an overview of the available scientific evidence that points to areas of needed intervention to reduce and ultimately eliminate inequities in mental health in Asia.

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