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Student-Led Program Study Shows Stigma Reduction

Students on Indiana University's Bloomington campus.

Indiana University's Bloomington campus. (FILE PHOTO: Steve Burns, WTIU/WFIU News)

A study that examined the attitudes and behaviors of college students toward mental health issues was conducted in Indiana.  

The recently-published study followed a single graduating class from Indiana University over their four years on campus. The students engaged in a program called U Bring Change 2 Mind that aims to reduce stigma. 

Indiana University professor Bernice Pescosolido led the study and says college students are a receptive population. 

"We’ve been able to open up discussion networks within friendship groups, within classrooms, for people to feel comfortable to disclose that they have mental health problems," says Pescosolido. 

The four-year campaign showed a significant reduction of stigma for 11 percent to 14 percent of participants. Students involved in four or more events reported greater stigma reduction. 

The project also involved university buy-in which helped deliver the stigma reduction message to the entire campus. 

Pescosolido also heads the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Research Services. She says the work focuses on a peer-to-peer model where students lead activities and discussion. 

"You really want this to be by students for students, if you want to change a group, you really go to the people themselves and say ‘what will matter?’" says Pescosolido. 

The U Bring Change 2 Mind program builds off of work Pescosolido has done with actress Glenn Close. 

Contact Jill at jsheridan@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @JillASheridan

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