Stigma associated with mental health problems among young people in India: a systematic review of magnitude, manifestations and recommendations

Shivani Mathur Gaiha*, Tatiana Taylor Salisbury, Mirja Koschorke, Usha Raman, Mark Petticrew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Globally, 20% of young people experience mental disorders. In India, only 7.3% of its 365 million youth report such problems. Although public stigma associated with mental health problems particularly affects help-seeking among young people, the extent of stigma among young people in India is unknown. Describing and characterizing public stigma among young people will inform targeted interventions to address such stigma in India, and globally. Thus, we examined the magnitude and manifestations of public stigma, and synthesised evidence of recommendations to reduce mental-health-related stigma among young people in India. Method: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies was conducted. Nine electronic databases were searched and 30 studies (n = 6767) met inclusion criteria. Results: Most studies (66%) focused on youth training to become health professionals. One-third of young people display poor knowledge of mental health problems and negative attitudes towards people with mental health problems and one in five had actual/intended stigmatizing behavior (I2>=95%). Young people are unable to recognize causes and symptoms of mental health problems and believe that recovery is unlikely. People with mental health problems are perceived as dangerous and irresponsible, likely due to misinformation and misunderstanding of mental health problems as being solely comprised of severe mental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia). However, psychiatric labels are not commonly used/understood. Conclusion: Public education may use symptomatic vignettes (through relatable language and visuals) instead of psychiatric labels to improve young people’s understanding of the range of mental health problems. Recommended strategies to reduce public stigma include awareness campaigns integrated with educational institutions and content relevant to culture and age-appropriate social roles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number538
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • India
  • Mental health
  • Stigma
  • Systematic review
  • Youth


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