Background: Despite advances that the psychosis "clinical high-risk" (CHR) identification offers, risk of stigma exists. Awareness of and agreement with stereotypes has not yet been evaluated in CHR individuals. Furthermore, the relative stigma associated with symptoms, as opposed to the label of risk, is not known, which is critical because CHR identification may reduce symptom-related stigma. Methods: Thirty-eight CHR subjects were ascertained using standard measures from the Center of Prevention and Evaluation/New York State Psychiatric Institute/ Columbia University. Labeling-related measures adapted to the CHR group included "stereotype awareness and self-stigma" ("Stereotype awareness", "Stereotype Agreement", "Negative emotions [shame]"), and a parallel measure of "Negative emotions (shame)" for symptoms. These measures were examined in relation to symptoms of anxiety and depression, adjusting for core CHR symptoms (e.g. attenuated psychotic symptoms). Results: CHR participants endorsed awareness of mental illness stereotypes, but largely did not themselves agree with these stereotypes. Furthermore, CHR participants described more stigma associated with symptoms than they did with the risk-label itself. Shame related to symptoms was associated with depression, while shame related to the risk-label was associated with anxiety. Conclusion: Both stigma of the risk-label and of symptoms contribute to the experience of CHR individuals. Stereotype awareness was relatively high and labeling-related shame was associated with increased anxiety. Yet limited agreement with stereotypes indicated that labeling-related stigma had not fully permeated self-conceptions. Furthermore, symptom-related stigma appeared more salient overall and was linked with increased depression, suggesting that alleviating symptom-related shame via treating symptoms might provide major benefit.
- At risk
- Clinical high risk state for psychosis
- Early psychosis