College students who participate in fun, peer-directed activities that openly and honestly address mental illness are significantly less likely to stigmatize people with these conditions, according to a new study led by researchers at Indiana University (IU).

The work, published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is the first study to systematically survey a single graduating class over the course of their college careers on attitudes toward people with mental illness in conjunction with a sustained campaign on the topic. The study was led by Bernice Pescosolido, IU Distinguished Professor of Sociology and director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research.

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Specifically, the study examined the effectiveness of U Bring Change to Mind, a part of Bring Change to Mind, a national nonprofit focused on reducing the stigma associated with mental illness led by actress Glenn Close, whose sister and nephew live with mental illness. The researchers measured shifts in student attitudes over time though surveys in their freshman and junior years.

About the Author:

Kevin Fryling is a senior news and media specialist for science at IU Communications, where he helps connect people to information about IU’s latest discoveries from schools located at IU Bloomington.

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