Experiences of otherness among students diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety disorder
1Kaija Appelqvist-Schmidlechner, Jenni Wessman, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson and Minna-Liisa Luoma
1National Institute for Health and Welfare
Introduction. People with mental disorders sometimes experience that they are perceived as abnormal or different. Aim. The study aimed at investigating the experiences of otherness among students diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety disorder who participated in a psychosocial rehabilitation program. Method. The data were gathered with focus groups by interviewing eight groups of students (n=47) aged 16−25 years diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety disorder who participated in a rehabilitation program during 2011−2013. Results. Seven themes were discovered related to the sense of otherness: 1) Carnival of depression, 2) Stereotypes, 3) Shame, 4) Ethos of self management, 5) Overabundance of help, 6) Minimisation and lack of understanding, and 7) Power of peer support. Conclusion. Sense of otherness is related to stigma experiences which may carry both negative and positive meanings. Health care professionals should be aware of the power of peer support and humour among young adults with mental disorders.
depression, young people, otherness, stigma, peer support