“About one in five Americans has a mental illness, with half of these individuals first experiencing symptoms of mental illness in their teen years, “ says Dr. Melissa Pinto-Foltz of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. She recently published a study in Social Science and Medicine on educational programs for adolescents aimed to reduce the stigma of mental illness and improve mental health literacy.
The study followed the reactions of 156 girls in 9th and 10th grade, half of whom had seen an educational program called In Our Own Voice and half of whom had not. The program invites people who have experienced mental illness to tell their stories. At four and eight weeks after the program, Dr. Pinto-Foltz conducted follow-up interviews. In these interviews, she found that participants enjoyed the program and that those who had seen the program scored significantly better on a test of mental health literacy at 4 and 8 weeks. However, the intervention was too short to change some girls stigmas about mental illness.
Many Schubert Center Faculty Associates study mental health in children and adolescents.