Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN, Chairperson; Ann M. Mayo, RN, DNSc; Ruth N. Grendell, DNSc, RN


healing relationships, mental illness, nursing, personal empowerment, self-stigma


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between self-stigma of mental illness and personal empowerment among people who have a severe mental illness. It had been hypothesized that self-stigma of mental illness and personal empowerment are at opposite end of a continuum. As such, individuals who perceive themselves in a stigmatized manner tend to reciprocally perceive themselves as being relatively powerless, rather than having a strong sense of personal empowerment. Likewise, individuals who perceive themselves as having a relatively strong sense of personal empowerment tend to experience a low degree of self-stigma. To test this hypothesis, a quantitative research study was conducted to examine the relationship between self-stigma of mental illness and personal empowerment. The Spearman rho statistical procedure was performed to test the strength of the relationship between these two variables. The Self-stigma of Mental Illness scale was used to measure self-stigma of mental illness and the Making Decisions Empowerment scale was used to measure personal empowerment. Eighty four research participants completed these two instruments, plus a demographic questionnaire that was utilized to describe the sample population. The correlation between the two variables, self-stigma of mental illness and personal empowerment revealed a large, inverse, statistically significant relationship, n (84) =-.562, p < .01. Overall, participants with higher scores on the self-stigma of mental illness scale had lower scores on the making decisions, personal empowerment scale, and vice versa. These findings provide meaningful data that can be used in the context of the mental health recovery process. Becoming empowered is an important aspect of mental health recovery. Implications for further studies include interventions to enhance personal empowerment. Of particular interest to the researcher is the concept of healing relationships, in which the characteristics of relationships may be essentially helpful or hurtful. In the context of mental health recovery and healing relationships as an intervention, there is much to be explored and studied about the art and science of healing relationships.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons