Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Name

MS in Psychology

Department

Psychology & Child Development

Advisor

Lisa Sweatt

Abstract

The National Alliance of Mental Illness’s Ending the Silence (ETS) program focuses on the epidemic of mental illness stigma among school- aged youth. The program is targeted specifically at high school- age youth, and aims to educate, dispel myths about mental illness and instill a message of hope and recovery all while encouraging students to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. A trained presentation team containing two people, one of whom is a young adult who is living with mental illness or recovered from mental illness, delivers the program. Participants (n=142) completed assessments measuring their thoughts and attitudes towards people with mental illness, as well as a mental health facts questionnaire. Data wereas gathered from participants before the ETS presentation, after the ETS presentation, and 6 weeks later. The assessments consisted of both qualitative and quantitative data. Content analysis of the qualitative data revealed a consistent improvement in participants’ understanding and definition of mental illness. Youth reported understanding that mental illness can be a biological as well as developed illness. The majority of students (61.3%) self-reported their attitudes towards people with mental illness had become more positive after the presentation. The results of this study indicate that the Ending the Silence program is meeting its identified goals and objectives.

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