The stigma of mental illness in Arab families: a concept analysis.
The stigma of mental illness varies significantly from culture to culture and from person to person. To date, little is known about how mental illness stigma manifests within the Arab community. This study aimed at bringing clarity to the concept of 'mental illness stigma' as it applies to Arab families. Nursing's holistic and patient-centered approach is integral to helping Arab patients and their families appropriately incorporate individual values, beliefs, and cultural perspectives into treatment plans. This study establishes a scientific alert for professionals at all levels to avoid making false generalizations about a specific culture that are not based on specific research findings from that culture.
Accessing mental health services is a critical step towards reducing the burden of mental illness. The stigma of mental illness is one of the most common reasons for not seeking mental health care leading to negative health consequences and undue suffering for many individuals and their families. Stigma is embedded in its social context. What may be considered acceptable in one society may be considered unacceptable and open to stigmatization in other societies. Arabs have a shared set of values, beliefs, and traditions that are substantially different from those of Westerners. Further, in most Arab countries, formal mental health resources are scarce and people with mental illness experience the compounded disadvantages of poverty and illness stigma. To date, little is known about how mental illness stigma manifests within the Arab community making it difficult to design and test interventions that support Arab individuals with mental illness and their families in treatment seeking and adherence. Using Rodger's concept analysis method, we examined how 'mental illness stigma' operates within an Arab context as a first step towards elucidating culturally competent approaches to treatment. This analysis provides a foundation for future work in the areas of mental illness diagnosis, education, and treatment that reflect the unique characteristics of Arab culture.
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