Coming out with mental illness may be an effective strategy for reducing self-stigma. This study examined predictors and consequences of coming out. Participants (N = 106) with severe mental illness who reported being out (n = 79) or not out (n = 27) endorsed benefits of being out (BBOs) and reasons for staying in. Predictors from baseline measures were self-stigma, insight, and psychiatric diagnosis. Three outcome measures-basic psychological needs, care engagement, and depression-were also completed at baseline and 1-month follow-up.
Among participants already out, BBOs and reasons for staying in were significantly and independently associated with self-stigma, insight, and lifetime affective diagnoses. In terms of consequences, BBOs were associated with cross-sectional and 1-month measures of engagement for those already out, but not for closeted participants.
Among closeted participants, BBOs were associated with baseline and 1-month measures of basic psychological needs.
Implications for strategies meant to promote disclosure in order to decrease self-stigma are considered.
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- 1*Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL; and †Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cleveland, OH.
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