Predictors of mental illness stigma and attitudes among college students: using vignettes from a campus common reading program.

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Predictors of mental illness stigma and attitudes among college students: using vignettes from a campus common reading program.

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2014 Sep;35(9):694-703

Authors: Feeg VD, Prager LS, Moylan LB, Smith KM, Cullinan M

Abstract
Research has demonstrated that stigmatizing mentally ill individuals is prevalent and often results in lack of adherence to or avoidance of treatment. The present study sought to examine attitudes of college students regarding mental illness as part of a campus-wide "common readings" program. The book selected was a non-fiction account of a young girl with mental illness and the program was developed to initiate dialogue about young people with mental problems. Faculty from multiple disciplines collaborated on the project. A sample of 309 students completed a web-based survey after reading a vignette about an adolescent girl with mental illness. The vignette description was based on a character in the book selected in the program. The instruments measured attribution of stigma, social distance, and familiarity with people who have mental illness. Results demonstrated that younger students and those who are less familiar with mental illness were more likely to stigmatize and maintain social distance from those who are mentally ill. Awareness of the study findings can assist health professionals and mental health workers to identify interventions that can decrease stigma. Psychiatric mental health nurses are well positioned to lead the education effort aimed at reducing stigmatizing attitudes among the public.

PMID: 25162192 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]