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April 16, 2020 Thursday 09:12:43 PM IST

Student led efforts can help make college campuses 'safe and stigma free' zones

Leadership Instincts

The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports on a study following a four-year effort to change the stigma of mental illness at Indiana University, which drew the attention of students and faculty; increased awareness of discrimination and prejudice; and decreased prejudice and increased inclusion. The study evaluated the effectiveness of the "U Bring Change to Mind" (UBC2M) campaign -- a student-led program designed to reduce the stigma of mental health problems. While initial stigma levels among college students were much lower than levels reported in the general population, the study documented a significant reduction in the stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs, and a greater willingness to interact with others on campus who face mental health challenges. Results of the UBC2M campaign showed an 11 to 14 percent reduction in stigma documented by the study. This rivals well-funded, national programs, while requiring minimal support for sustainability.

With new studies of college campuses showing an unexpectedly high level of mental health challenges among US college students, more parents and college administrators have raised concerns about how to respond. Many higher education institutions have reconsidered their campus mental health services but have found that the degree of service need is beyond what current resources are already able to address.

Following changes in attitudes, behaviors, and engagement among the 2019 entering class through their junior year, Dr. Pescosolido and her team worked with UBC2M students to administer a web-based survey. The survey asked students about their general ideas about mental illness and their opinions about interacting with students, faculty and staff who face mental health challenges.

Over 1,000 students completed both waves of surveys with over 80 percent reporting that they were aware of the anti-stigma effort. As students' level of participation increased, they reported greater decreases in stigma. Those who had only heard about UBC2M reported no change in prejudice, however they did report a more favorable perception of campus culture overall.




(Content Courtesy: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-04/e-sle041420.php)



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