Mental health-related stigma is considered a significant barrier to help-seeking and accessing care in those experiencing mental illness. Long duration of untreated psychosis is associated with poorer outcomes. The impact of stigma on the duration of untreated psychosis, in first-episode psychosis remains unexplored. To examine the association between mental health-related stigma and access to care in people experiencing first-episode psychosis in Birmingham, UK.
We collected data on a prospective cohort of first-episode psychosis. The Stigma Scale was used as a measure of mental health-related stigma, and duration of untreated psychosis as a measure of delay in accessing care. We performed logistic and linear regression analyses to explore the relationship between mental health-related stigma and duration of untreated psychosis, adjusting for sex, age, educational level, religion and ethnicity.
On the 89 participants included in this study, linear regression analysis revealed that overall stigma and the discrimination sub-factor were significant predictors of longer duration of untreated psychosis, whereas logistic regression identified the disclosure sub-factor to be a significant predictor of longer duration of untreated psychosis.
These findings demonstrate that stigmatizing views of mental illness from the patient's perspectives can result in delayed access to care. This emphasizes the importance of tackling mental health-related stigma to ensure early treatment and improved outcomes for people experiencing first-episode psychosis.