Is it time to change the approach of mental health stigma campaigns? An experimental investigation of the effect of campaign wording on stigma and help-seeking intentions

Hazell, C.M., Fixsen, Alison and Berry, C. 2022. Is it time to change the approach of mental health stigma campaigns? An experimental investigation of the effect of campaign wording on stigma and help-seeking intentions. PLoS ONE. 17 (8) e0273254. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273254

TitleIs it time to change the approach of mental health stigma campaigns? An experimental investigation of the effect of campaign wording on stigma and help-seeking intentions
TypeJournal article
AuthorsHazell, C.M., Fixsen, Alison and Berry, C.
Abstract

Introduction
Mental health stigma causes a range of diverse and serious negative sequelae. Anti-stigma campaigns have largely aligned with medical theories and categorical approaches. Such campaigns have produced some improvements, but mental health stigma is still prevalent. The effect of alternative theoretical perspectives on mental health within anti-stigma campaigns has not been tested. Moreover, we do not know their effect on help-seeking intentions.

Methods
We conducted an online experimental pre-post study comparing the effects of two anti-stigma campaign posters on mental health stigma and help-seeking intentions. One poster adhered to the medical, categorical approach to mental health, whereas the other poster portrayed mental health problems in line with a non-categorical, continuous perspective.

Results
After controlling for familiarity with the campaign poster, country of residence and pre-test scores, we found no significant between-group differences in terms of help-seeking intentions and all stigma attitudes except for danger-related beliefs. That is, those who viewed the non-categorical poster reported an increased perception that people with mental health problems are dangerous.

Discussion
Our largely null findings may suggest the equivalence of these posters on stigma and help-seeking intentions but may also reflect the brevity of the intervention. Our findings concerning danger beliefs may reflect a Type I error, the complexities of stigma models, or the adverse effects of increased perceived contact. Further research is needed to test the effects of differing mental health paradigms on stigma and help-seeking intentions over a longer duration.

Article numbere0273254
JournalPLoS ONE
Journal citation17 (8)
ISSN1932-6203
Year2022
PublisherPublic Library of Science
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273254
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273254
Publication dates
Published18 Aug 2022
EditorsNaoki Yoshinaga

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