Learn and ACT: Changing prejudice towards people with mental illness using stigma reduction interventions

Authors:

Amanda Kenny & Boris Bizumic

Abstract:

Recent research demonstrated that a stigma reduction intervention based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may be more effective than one focused on education about mental illness. Studies have often evaluated interventions using tools with weak or unknown psychometric properties. The current project aims to appraise two interventions – education, and acceptance and commitment training – using a new multidimensional measure of Prejudice towards People with Mental Illness (PPMI). We assessed participants (N=152) two weeks apart (pre- and post-intervention) using the PPMI scale, comprising dimensions of fear/avoidance, malevolence, authoritarianism, and unpredictability. Both interventions were effective, although the ACT-based intervention was significantly better at reducing overall prejudice. Responses differed across PPMI subscales. Malevolent attitudes worsened slightly following both interventions, suggesting individuals may be less empathetic towards those with mental illness following stigma reduction interventions. We discuss implications for future interventions to reduce prejudice towards people with mental illness.

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