Intersectionality as an Analytic Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Mental Health Stigma Among Racialized Men

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International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

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The objective of this research was to use intersectionality to explore Asian men’s experiences of stigma and mental illness to tease out the ways in which stigma of mental illness among Asian men is mediated by age, immigration experiences, sexual and gender identities, racism and racialization processes, normative expectations about masculinity, and material inequality. The data for this research are based on a 4-year, multi-site (Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto) mixed-methods intervention study that evaluated the effectiveness of interventions in reducing self and social mental health stigma among Asian men (Livingston et al. International Journal of Social Psychiatry 64, 679-689, 2018; Guruge et al. Contemporary Clinical Trials 71, 133–139, 2018). Participants were Asian men living with or affected by mental illness and community leaders interested in stigma reduction and advocacy. Quantitative survey data captured participants’ self-reports of stigma, psychological flexibility, valued life domains, mindfulness, and empowerment readiness. Qualitative data included focus group transcripts, field notes, and participants’ logs about anti-stigma activities in their communities. The data analyzed here are from ten pre-intervention and seven post-intervention focus groups conducted at the Vancouver site. The data collected pre- and post-interventions revealed that men understand and experience stigma as inextricably linked to social location, specifically age, race, masculinity, ethnicity, and time of migration. Our analysis also revealed that mental health stigma cannot be understood in isolation of other social and structural barriers. The application of intersectional frameworks must figure prominently in psychological research and in public health policies that seek to reduce mental health stigma in racialized communities.


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