Effects of education and social contact on mental health-related stigma among high-school students: Psychiatry Research

M. Lanfredi, A. Macis, C. Ferrari, L. Rillosi, E.C. Ughi, A. Fanetti, N. Younis, L. Cadei, C. Gallizioli, G. Uggeri, R. Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poor knowledge and stigma toward people with mental illness negatively affect intentions to seek help among adolescents. The study aimed to assess the impact of three school-based interventions and to explore whether positive changes in attitudes were linked to more favorable changes in desire for social distance and seeking help. A total of 221 upper secondary students were allocated to three interventions: 1. social contact; 2. Mental Health Literacy (MHL) conducted by clinicians; 3. MHL conducted by dis-peer instructors. Measures of knowledge, attitudes, views on empowerment and recovery, willingness to interact, and help seeking were collected. Generalized Estimating Equations and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) were used to evaluate scores differences between interventions through time, and to test the interrelationships between knowledge, attitudes variables and the two outcomes of interest. Findings showed that all groups improved in knowledge, attitudes, empowerment, willingness to interact, and seeking help. SEM revealed that the increase in knowledge was significantly associated with the General attitudes toward people with mental illness construct that, in turn, was positively associated with willingness to interact and seeking help. Results encourage the use of anti-stigma interventions in order to decrease negative attitudes toward mental illness and improve behavioral intentions among students. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112581
JournalPsychiatry Res.
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Adolescents
  • Attitudes
  • Contact
  • Help seeking
  • Mental health literacy
  • Social distance
  • adolescent
  • adult
  • Article
  • attitude to mental illness
  • behavior change
  • controlled study
  • empowerment
  • female
  • generalized estimating equation
  • health education
  • health literacy
  • help seeking behavior
  • high school student
  • human
  • information processing
  • male
  • mental health
  • priority journal
  • quasi experimental study
  • social behavior
  • social distance
  • stigma
  • structural equation modeling


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