Self-stigma and coming out about one's mental illness

Patrick W. Corrigan*, Scott Morris, Jon Larson, Jennifer Drothy Rafacz, Abigail Wassel, Patrick Michaels, Sandra Wilkniss, Karen Batia, Nicolas Rüsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Self-stigma can undermine self-esteem and self-efficacy of people with serious mental illness. Coming out may be one way of handling self-stigma and it was expected that coming out would mediate the effects of self-stigma on quality of life. This study compares coming out to other approaches of controlling self-stigma. Eighty-five people with serious mental illness completed measures of coming out (called the Coming Out with Mental Illness Scale, COMIS), self-stigma, quality of life, and strategies for managing self-stigma. An exploratory factor analysis of the COMIS uncovered two constructs: benefits of being out (BBO) and reasons for staying in. A mediational analysis showed BBO diminished self-stigma effects on quality of life. A factor analysis of measures of managing self-stigma yielded three factors. Benefits of being out was associated with two of these: affirming strategies and becoming aloof, not with strategies of shame. Implications for how coming out enhances the person's quality of life are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-275
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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