Beliefs, stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems in Uganda : implications for theory and practice

Quinn, Neil and Knifton, Lee (2014) Beliefs, stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems in Uganda : implications for theory and practice. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 60 (6). pp. 554-561. ISSN 0020-7640

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    Abstract

    There are major gaps in knowledge about beliefs, stigma and discrimination in Uganda, including the relationship between different cultural beliefs and stigmatising responses, how stigma and beliefs result in discrimination and the impact of social factors such as gender, poverty and ethnic conflict. This exploratory study aims to understand beliefs, stigma and discrimination associated with mental health in Uganda in more depth from the perspectives of different stakeholders. Focus groups and interviews were undertaken with mental health activists, policymakers, practitioners, nongovernmental and human rights organisations, journalists and academics. Stigma was reported by individuals, families, communities and institutions, including health services. The study also found stigmatising beliefs linked to traditional, religious and medical explanatory frameworks, high levels of ‘associated stigma’, common mental health problems rarely medicalised and discrimination linked to poverty, gender and conflict. The findings suggest the need to address stigma in their cultural and social context, alongside other human rights initiatives.