Self-advocacy among individuals diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI)
The following study examined the impact of self-advocacy in relation to self-stigma and life satisfaction in individuals diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). Diagnoses included under this title include depression, bipolar disorder I and II, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Schizophrenia was of particular importance given that it tends to be viewed more negatively in society than other mental illnesses. Many experts believe that negative societal beliefs become internalized which creates a lowered view of self, as well as a perception of certain disorders as being more dangerous and unpredictable than others. Previous studies found that self-efficacy and self-advocacy appear to be related, such that those endorsing higher levels of self-efficacy also tend to advocate more for themselves. Research indicates that self-efficacy is a mediating factor for self-stigma and life satisfaction. However, research has not explored whether self-advocacy is also a mediating factor. Further, past research has explored the role of self-advocacy and has generally found this factor to be negatively correlated with self-stigma. This study sought to determine whether self-advocacy attenuates the relationship between self-stigma and life satisfaction. Self-advocacy, in this study, referred to the concept of being actively involved in one’s treatment decisions and attempting to reduce mental illness stigma for individuals as a way to improve quality of life. Results indicated that self-advocacy did not mediate the relationship between self-advocacy and self-stigma. However, significant differences were found in life satisfaction, with individuals with Major Depressive Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder endorsing a lower level of life satisfaction compared to those individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Limitations and considerations for future research and practice are discussed.