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A Randomized Trial of High-School Preventive Intervention Related to Mental Illness Stigma

Friday, November 17
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom E & F, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Stigma | Prevention | Adolescents
Presentation Type: Symposium

Consensus exists that (a) the stigmatization of mental illness remains a pressing issue, nationally and internationally; and (b) negative attitudes and practices coalesce during the developmental period from childhood through late adolescence.  A high-school preventive model related to mental illness stigma reduction, called Let’s Erase the Stigma (LETS), is now conducted under the auspices of the non-profit organization Bring Change 2 Mind.  Interested high school students join a LETS club at the beginning of a school year, including a teacher/advisor but without the presence of mental health professionals.  The principles of contact, active discussion, empathy enhancement, and planning for social action underlie the clubs, which receive direction from a guidebook that de-emphasizes mental health knowledge per se in favor of contact-based change.  A quasi-experimental evaluation of LETS (Murman et al, 2014) revealed small improvements in knowledge but medium-sized improvements in social distance, attitudes, and intended actions, as a function of participation.  A randomized trial is now being conducted in 46 Bay-Area high schools, all of which offer LETS clubs.  In a matched-pairs design, with schools matched for number of students, public/private status, ethnic composition, and percentage of students receiving reduced-price meals, half of the schools begin a club in the fall whereas half are delayed until the beginning of spring semester.  Quantitative and qualitative evaluations of knowledge, attitudes, social distance, and intended actions are administered in the early fall, the end of the first semester, and the end of the school year, affording parametric comparisons of immediate vs. delayed LETS club participation.  The anticipated sample size is ca. 800 youth.  The first cohort of schools participated in 2015-6; the second is underway in 2016-7.  Full data collection will be completed by June, 2016, and initial analyses will be completed by September, 2016, prior to ABCT.  We hypothesize improvements in all domains as a function of LETS participation, with the largest effects expected for measures of social distance and intended anti-stigma actions. 

Stephen P. Hinshaw

University of California, Berkeley; University of California, San Francisco


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A Randomized Trial of High-School Preventive Intervention Related to Mental Illness Stigma

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