Internalized Stigma among People with Mental Illness in Serbia and the Psychometric Properties of the Ismi Scale

Ivona Milacic Vidojevic, Nada Dragojevic, Oliver Toskovic, Milica Popovic


This study was aimed at exploring the experience of internalized stigma in persons with mental illness. It also served the purpose of exploring the feasibility of using the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness Scale (ISMI) to establish basic psychometric characteristics. The study is a part of the international INDIGO- ASPEN project. Participants (N=103) were service users of two psychiatric clinics and one primary health service in Serbia, with severe mental illnesses (52 with diagnosis of Major depression and 51 with Schizophrenia). Participants were of different age, gender, level of education, marital and employment status. For internalized stigma assessment the ISMI scale was applied. It consists of 5 subscales and 29 questions. Participants completed a questionnaire about socio-demographic and clinical data. 17.5% of participants reported experiencing moderate or severe stigma and 82.5% mild or minimal stigma. An elevated score was established for answers at all subscales: Alienation (27.2% of participants), Social Withdrawal (24.3%), Stereotype Endorsement (16.5%) and Discrimination (16.5%). Results show that socio-demographic and clinical variables are not linked to ISMI subscales. The study results confirm the good psychometric characteristics of the ISMI. Though the experience of internalized stigma in the sample of people with depression and schizophrenia in Serbia is mildly grave it should not be discarded. Effective stigma reduction interventions should include empowerment of interpersonal relationships in persons with mental illnesses, their inclusion in self-help groups and self-esteem improvement.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2014.v3n3p153

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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