The evaluation of the impact of anti-stigma training led by "experts by experience" on participants’ attitudes towards persons with mental illness
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I Klinika Psychiatryczna, Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii
Instytut Pedagogiki, Uniwersytet Jagielloński
Fundacja eFkropka
Piotr Świtaj   

I Klinika Psychiatryczna, Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii
Submission date: 2019-04-12
Final revision date: 2019-06-03
Acceptance date: 2019-06-04
Online publication date: 2019-12-31
Publication date: 2019-12-31
Psychiatr Pol 2019;53(6):1219–1236
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of anti-stigma training led by people who had previously experienced mental health crises (i.e., "experts by experience") on various aspects of participants’ attitudes towards the people with mental illness.

The three-hour workshops were attended by 185 people; the training was held in 17 groups, with 3–19 people in each (11 on average). Almost half of the participants (45.4%) were employees of the mental health care system. The participants were asked to fill out a set of questionnaires immediately before and after the training, which evaluated the following aspects of their attitudes: social distance, stigmatizing attributions, beliefs about self-determination/ ability to attain important life goals by people with mental illness, and also beliefs about the social value of people with mental illness. The respondents were asked to complete the same set of questionnaires again online a month and six months after the training. The data were analyzed based on a piecewise latent trajectory model.

Out of the 185 people who participated in the workshops, 115 (62.2%) filled out the questionnaires a month after, and 87 (47.0%) six months after the training. The analyses showed an improvement in all four measures of attitudes expressed directly after the training. In three out of the four examined aspects of attitudes (intensity of social distance, stigmatizing attributions and beliefs about self-determination of people with mental illness) the positive impact of the training continued after six months.

The results provide preliminary empirical evidence that the structured antistigma intervention under evaluation, using the elements of education and interpersonal contact can be an effective tool for improving social attitudes towards people with mental illness.