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Stigma of persons with disabilities in Afghanistan: Examining the pathways from stereotyping to mental distress

Stigma of persons with disabilities in Afghanistan: Examining the pathways from stereotyping to mental distress

Social Science and Medicine 153: 258-265

Despite evidence that stigma of disability is frequently reflected through stereotyping and often results in mental distress, very limited literature demonstrates the pathways through which stereotyping has an impact on mental health. Drawing from a large sample of 1449 participants interviewed between December 2012 and September 2013 from an Afghan community-based rehabilitation program, we examined the structure of stigma associated with disability in Afghanistan. Labeling and negative stereotypes, associated with a specific cause of disability, result in social exclusion that in turn impacts mental health. Using structural equation modeling with latent variables, we examined the mediation effect of stereotypes associated with disability on mental distress and anxiety. We found a mediating role of social exclusion between stereotypes and mental distress but only in the case of persons with disabilities from birth. Comparing the total effect of 'disabled at birth' and mental distress 0.195 (95% CI: 0.018-0.367) the effect size of this mediation effect was 0.293 (95% CI: 0.173-0.415). There was no significant direct effect between 'disabled at birth' and mental distress once mediation effect was accounted for in our model. These findings suggest that a multipronged policy approach that recognizes the driving forces of stigma and promotes social participation directly alongside psychosocial interventions on mental distress of persons with disabilities is necessary to achieve wellbeing for a group that has been historically and systematically excluded from development interventions.

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Accession: 058905420

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26928587

DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.02.024

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