Social stigma caused due to stress leads to more mental health problems in autistic people than general population. A study published in Journal of Society and Mental Health, researchers from the University of Surrey and University College London examined how stress related to social stigma, such as discrimination and rejection impact mental health of autistic people.
Researchers testing the ‘minority stress theory’ assessed stressors that were thought to lead to a decline in mental health among autistic people. Minority stress describes chronically high levels of stress faced by members of stigmatized minority groups, which the researchers believed would apply to autistic people too.
This survey covered six key areas of minority stress namely 'victimization and discrimination', 'outness', ‘everyday discrimination,' 'expectation of rejection,' 'physical concealment,' and 'internalized stigma'.
Researchers tested how minority stressors had a negative impact on participants’ mental health in the form of psychological distress and a decline in well-being.
For the first time, researchers found that social stress related to the stigma experienced by autistic people was predictive of higher levels of psychological distress and lower levels of emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
Behavioral health services deal with mental illness and addiction. While such studies sensitize our society towards the challenges of autistic people.