Although attitudes toward stigmatised groups are difficult to change, education programs and opportunities that promote direct contact with people who have experienced mental illness have demonstrated success in increasing mental health literacy and reducing stigma surrounding mental illness. The present study examined the effectiveness of a mental illness education program directed at adolescents and the factors influencing its impact. A sample of 694 students (251 males,443 females),aged between 11 and 19 years,across 13 public and private high schools and colleges throughout the ACT was obtained. Students completed self-report questionnaires relating to stigma,mental health knowledge and help-seeking intentions before and after participating in the education program and their results were compared with a control group. Students participating in the program also completed measures of empathic concern and affect immediately following the program. Results indicated the program was effective in decreasing stigma and increasing knowledge and intentions to seek help. The impact of knowledge,empathy,affect,and similarity to program presenters,on program outcomes was also examined. While the results showed that the combination of contact and education was effective in promoting attitude change,suggestions for improving the impact of the program are discussed.
|Date of Award||1 Jan 2006|